P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Cops beat up protesters outside DC’s office
Suspension of erring policemen sought
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 14
As part of the ‘Jail bharo andolan’ by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPM, 200 workers and leaders of the CPM were today apprehended by the police in the district administrative complex (DC office) here.

As the protesters wanted to be arrested by raising slogans in this regard, a police officer, present there on duty, told them that they had been arrested, so they should board the vehicles, arranged for them. On this, about two hundred workers and leaders boarded three to four vehicles and the police took them away to an undisclosed place. While more than 200 remaining leaders and activists of the party left the DC office complex after 10 minutes, as there was no vehicle to carry them.

When The Tribune contacted Mr Surjit Singh Grewal, SP (D), Sangrur, on the phone this afternoon about the fate of the “arrested” protesters, he said all of them had been let off after some time.

At least six leaders and activists of the party received internal or external injuries on heads, eyes or hands etc when the policemen used rifle butts and lathis to stop the protesters from entering the DC’s office. Due to police action, Mr Major Singh Punnawal, state committee member of the CPM, received serious injury on his eye while Mr Ram Singh Sohian, another state committee member of the party; Mr Ram Singh Jawandha, district president of the Khet Mazdoor Union; Mr Devinder Singh, sarpanch of Noorpura village and vice-president of the district unit of Punjab Kisan Sabha; and Mr Mushtaq Bhasaur, an activist of the party, also received internal or external injuries on different parts of their bodies.

However, activists of the party, entered the DC office and staged a dharna near the DC’s room. They raised slogans against the Punjab Police and demanded suspension of alleged “erring” police officials. They were addressed by Prof Balwant Singh, state secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPM; Mr Bhup Chand Channo, state president of the Khet Mazdoor Union; Mr Major Singh Punnawal, Mr Bant Singh Namol, district secretary of the CPM; Mr Kalicharn Kaushik, a leader of the Khet Mazdoor Union.

Addressing protesters Prof Balwant Singh said the CPM had launched the “Jail bharo andolan” to raise issues of people especially poor people and Punjab. He demanded allotment of land to landless agriculture workers, labourers and small farmers, plots of four marlas for the houseless labourers and agriculture workers, setting up of new units for providing employment, opening of new ration depots for weaker sections of the society, guaranteed employment to unemployed persons in all districts of the state, Rs 5,000 as minimum wages to the agriculture and other workers, and transfer of Chandigarh and other Punjabi-speaking areas to Punjab.

Prof Balwant Singh also warned the government that if it failed in fulfilling the demands of the people soon the CPM in its next phase of agitation would ask the poor people to take wheat as Rs 6 per kg from the ration depots on their own by placing the required money at ration depots. He said the CPM would also ask landless people to take the possession of surplus land.

Prof Balwant Singh condemned police action and said this had exposed the real face of the police. He also demanded suspension of the alleged “erring” policemen, involved in beating up CPM leaders and activists with rifle butts and lathis.

Earlier in the day, protesters marched through the town and raised slogans in support of their demands.


Punjab plan pegged at Rs 4,000 crore
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 14
The size of the Annual Plan of Punjab for 2006-07 has been fixed at Rs.4000 crore, indicating an increase of 12.07 per cent over the size of Rs 3750 crore for the Annual Plan 2005-06 at a meeting held here today.

The decision was taken at a meeting between the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of India, Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh.

Referring to the allocation of funds in the Annual Plan 2006-07, Capt Singh said the state government had earmarked 24 per cent for the energy sector, 13 per cent for the social services sector, 23 per cent for transport and roads, 23 per cent for district plan under decentralised planning at the grassroot level and 6 per cent for irrigation, 4.50 per cent for rural development and 3.25 per cent for agriculture.

Capt Singh also urged Dr Ahulwalia to recommend the announcements of the special development package amounting to Rs 2040 crore to the government to fill up the critical gaps in the urban and rural infrastructure, roads and power sector so that targeted achievement was put in place by the end of the 10th Five Year Plan.

On the persuasion of Capt Singh, the Deputy Chairman agreed to revise the resources under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP).

In addition the Deputy Chairman agreed to provide Additional Central Assistance (ACA) of Rs 100 crore for projects of special importance to the state.

Outlining the bold initiatives taken by the Punjab Government to consolidate its fiscal position, Capt Singh said the rate of growth was anticipated at 6.4 per cent in 2006-07 as against about 2 per cent in the previous years.

He said the committed expenditure on salaries, pensions and interest payments had come down to 97.62 per cent in 2004-05 from 118 per cent of revenue receipts in 2001-02 and was expected to go down to 79.58 per cent in 2005-06. Tax to the GSDP ratio had improved from 6.8 per cent in 2001-02 to 8.03 per cent in 2005-06.

Taking part in the deliberations, Dr Ahluwalia appreciated the efforts made by the state government in improving its fiscal indicators and hoped that the state would now be able to implement the Annual Plan fully and take the state on the path of high growth.

He assured the Chief Minister of the assistance and cooperation of the Planning Commission for the sustained growth of states economy. Dr Ahluwalia lauded the decisions taken by the state government to adopt the alternative delivery models of health, education and veterinary services through the panchayati raj institutions.

He also commended the state government for the construction of 11 roads of 760 km with an investment of Rs 900 crore on the BOT basis with viability gap funding and the construction, operation and management of three major bus terminals of Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana on BOT basis without any element of grant.

He also appreciated the decision of the state government to hand over 9 ITIs to the charitable societies on lease for 30 years for their operation and maintenance.

Capt Singh was accompanied by Finance Minister Surinder Singla, Chief Secretary K.R.Lakhanpal, Principal Secretary, Finance, D.S.Kalha, Secretary Planning and Transport A.R.Talwar and Principal Secretary to the CM Suresh Kumar.


Pak assurance on memorial in ancestral village of Sikh General
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Wagah, February 14
Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD and Tourism Minister revealed that small houses had emerged at the birthplace of great Sikh General Hari Singh Nalwa of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in his ancestral village in Gujranwala district in Pakistan. The minister, who was on a three-day visit to Pakistan and returned here today said following this scenario Pakistanis Punjab Chief Minister Pervez Elahi had accepted the demand of a memorial at a place near the ancestral house of the great General.

Mr Bajwa said he would place the report on these and other aspects of his discussions with Mr Elahi before Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.. He further said Mr Elahi had assured time to build a hospital or educational institute for the poor as a first step towards building a model village in memory of the great leader. He added that the Pakistanis CM had proposed it as a joint project with active cooperation from Indian Punjab.

Replying to a query on the fate of Punjab games, which were postponed due to earthquake, the minister said that a decision would be taken in a week on the next schedule of the games as discussed with the Pak CM.

Meanwhile, three Indians failed to be repatriated from Pakistan. According to official sources the three may be repatriated tomorrow. According to intelligence sources the reason was probably lack of coordination. It was learnt that emigration certificates, a mandatory document for repatriation were not issued to the selected three by the Indian High Commission. The three, include Raj Dev, Rajinder Singh, and Mohammad Aslam.

Meanwhile large number of persons who returned from Lahore today said that their visit to the Lahore had been fruitful as India won the match. Talking to The Tribune about his experiences in Lahore K.L. Katyal of Chandigarh said that he was amazed at the price of tomatoes, which were Rs 80 a kilo and had dropped by Rs 30 after Indian tomato had entered the market there.


Controversy generates heat among Punjab officers
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
The row over appointment of the next Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Chandigarh and conflicting indications about which Indian Police Service (IPS) cadre would hold this coveted post in future, has generated a lot of heat among the Punjab bureaucrats. Many of them are now openly criticising the Union Government for succumbing to pressure from various lobbies, resulting in a skewed ratio in appointment to the top posts in the Union Territory.

The fact of the matter is that The Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 has taken the back seat and appointments are being made arbitrarily without keeping the laid-down ratio of officers appointed on deputation with the UT Administration.

Today, neither the initial ratio of sharing of seats between Punjab and Haryana on a 60:40 ratio is being followed, nor is the subsequent amendment asking for Punjab, Haryana and the UT to have 54:37:9 ratios in practice.

Who runs the UT Administration? Is Punjab losing out its hold in running the UT Administration? Is there a deliberate move to shift control of the UT Administration from Punjab to Haryana? These are some of the questions that are being asked by the Punjab bureaucrats. A casual glance on “Who’s Who” in the Chandigarh Administration clearly shows that there is weight in the allegations.

It is a different matter that The Punjab Chief Minister may have prevailed upon the Union Home Ministry for retaining the post of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) with Punjab, but Punjab bureaucrats make a case for either implementing The Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 or amending it so that there are no illusions about the ground realities.

A senior bureaucrat not wanting to be quoted for fear for inviting reprisal said, “The question was settled way back by The Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 that directed Punjab and Haryana to have a 60:40 ratio in terms of appointment of officers amongst themselves. A subsequent amendment in the Act provided 9 per cent appointment for U.T Cadre officers bringing down Punjab’s share to 54 per cent and Haryana’s to 37 per cent. But over a period of time this piece of legislation has only remained on paper”.

The Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 further provides that Chandigarh would be the capital city for Punjab, while Haryana would use it as its temporary capital, besides the city being a Union Territory till such time as Haryana has a new capital. In view of this, all Punjab rules and regulations are also implemented in Chandigarh. Even the telecom circle that services the city is none other than the Punjab Telecom circle.

At present the Union Territory cadre officers posted at Chandigarh include the Adviser, Inspector General of Police (IG), SSP (HQ), both the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the Chairman of the Chandigarh Housing Board, S.D.M (East) and S.P (Operations).

Important posts held by Haryana officer in the UT Administration include those of the Home Secretary (the most powerful post in U.T), Deputy Commissioner, Chairman, Chandigarh Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO), S.P (Traffic), Joint Secretary Home, Director, Public Relations and Director, Information Technology.

Punjab officer on deputation with the UT Administration on important positions include the Finance Secretary, Joint Secretary, Finance, Municipal Commissioner, Managing Director, Chandigarh Tourism and Development Corporation (CITCO), S.D.Ms (Central and South) and Assistant Estate Officer.

Some Punjab officers, who also hail from Punjab point out that the National Commission for Minorities has rapped the Chandigarh Administration in the past for deliberately changing the demographic profile of the city by allowing jhuggi dwellers, mainly migrants labourers to settle here. They accuse the non-Punjab cadre officers of deliberately doing this to further mitigate Punjabi influence on the city.


Infant dies in hospital; kin block traffic
Allege negligence; SMO under scanner; DC orders probe
Tribune Reporters

Phagwara, February 14
Enraged over the death of a newly-born male infant allegedly due to doctors’ negligence, members of the aggrieved family, supported by activists of the Balmiki community and others, today pelted stones at a private hospital on the Satnampura road and blocked vehicular traffic on the Phagwara-Nakodar road for well over five hours keeping the body of the infant in the middle of the road near Satnampura police station. They also raised abusive slogans against Dr Mrs Harpal Kaur, the government gynaecologist, who allegedly had an illegal practice at the private hospital and mishandled the case and against Dr Yash Mitra, SMO, Civil Hospital, Phagwara, who, the protesters alleged, owned the private hospital, an allegation denied by Dr Mitra.

Inept handling of the situation by the authorities queered the pitch. Dr Mitra had to be first locked inside the room of the hospital and then whisked away from the back gate to save him from mob fury.

The mob ransacked the hospital, smashed windowpanes, vandalized flowerpots, furniture and other gadgets in the hospital. It caused panic among patients and some of them were seen fleeing for safety.

Phagwara SDM Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal, ASP Sukhchain Singh Gill, SHO Nirmal Singh had tough time in controlling the situation. The protesters, led by Satish Kumar Salhotra, vice-president, All-India Balmiki Samaj, Mr Pawan Sethi, Mr Om Parkash Chaudhary, Mr Raj Kumar Gupta and other leaders of the community, demanded suspension of erring doctors and a registration of a criminal case against them.

The protesters relented at 7.15 pm when Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner Sameer Kumar ordered a magisterial probe into the incidence, directing the SDM, Phagwara, to submit the report within two days.

Civil Surgeon J.S Sidana also assured stringent action in case negligence of any doctor was established.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal Kumar, father of the infant, told newsmen that his wife Priya Babli was admitted in the City Hospital, Satnampura on February 12. Her delivery was done through Caesarean around 8.30 pm last night, he said. “However, I was not shown the baby because the doctors said he was weak and his pulse was not stable,” disclosed the aggrieved father.

“We were told about the death of the infant in the wee hours of this morning,” said Badal. “The baby was handed over to us, wrapped in cotton, but when we uncovered it to bathe it before giving it a burial, we noticed six cuts on its body and private parts, he rued.

“We smelt a rat and came back from our Hadiabad residence to the hospital for inquiring about causes of the cuts. The doctors tried to tick us off and even tamper with file of the infant,” he alleged.

“This incensed us all and resulted in this aggressive agitation. It was our first child which was killed by the negligence of the doctor,” he rued.

A child specialist, Dr Puneet, who had also been called to the hospital last night for checking the child, told ASP Gill and newsmen that when he had come, the child was already dead. He attributed peeling off the skin of the infant either to laceration or difficult extraction, prolonged IUD or heat-induced burns during resuscitation.

It was learnt the private hospital was in the name of Mrs Anu Mitra, wife of Dr Yash Mitra, Phagwara SMO. Most of the government doctors had their private practice here even though private practice was illegal.

The hospital was constructed by a charitable trust in the memory of late Mohan Singh Hadiabadi, a philanthropist and an educationist. However, it was learnt that Mitras had taken it on contract even though Dr Yash Mitra asserted that he visited it occasionally for charitable purposes.


Experts present wonder world of art
Rubinder Gill
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 14
Borders blurred and another facet of heritage held centrestage as participants were taken on an amazing world of wonder in art by experts from both sides of the Wagah as the two-day seminar, ‘The Arts of Punjab’, held as part of Patiala Heritage Festival, concluded at the Department of Fine Arts, Punjabi University, here today.

Noted art scholars presented papers on art, paintings, architecture, and other folk mediums (including clothing matters, costumes, phulkaris and mud houses) which have sustained and enriched the region and people’s lives.

The focus was on two eminent scholars in the field, Prof B.N. Goswamy and his counterpart from Lahore, Fakir Syed Aijazuddin. Others who shared nuggets of their knowledge were Arpana Caur, Sanjay Dhar, Gurmeet Rai, Dev Inder Singh, Saroj Rani, Subhash Parihar, Hardev Singh, Bhai Sikandar Singh, Roopinder Singh, Karuna Goswamy, Charu Huria, Ambalicka Jacob, and Preeti Bahadur.

Prof Goswamy, the man credited with giving a face to Indian art in this region, began the proceedings with “Chehre-Mohre”, on portrait painting in Punjab.

Portraiture was not a distinguishing feature of Indian art yet we find all these portraits of royalty, aristocracy and ordinary men. He also brought out the fact that there were no concrete portraits of the gurus and only two references had been found for it.

Earlier, Indian art was considered to be anonymous. Prof Goswamy in his first major work rediscovered Pahari painter Nain Sukh. Painter Arpana Caur explained the influences on her Sohni series, miniatures in Pahari art.

Fakir Syed Aijazuddin, a descendant of the royal physician of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Lahore, who has inherited art works and sensibilities, touched upon areas of artistic commonality. He took the audience on an impassioned trip of Lahore down the ages through painting and sketches.

Art conservation architect Gurmeet Rai shed light on the flooring and gilding of Harmandar Sahib and the role of Sardar Lehana Singh Majithia. She brought out the fact that contrary to popular belief that Maharaja Ranjit had got the gilding done at the temple, it had been through contributions made by various sardars and people under the maharaja’s patronage. It was not funded by the state treasury.

Dev Inder Singh presented a slide show on mud houses while Parihar gave a detailed account of monuments of medieval Punjab. Roopinder Singh shared his slides and photographs of the frescoes at Pothimala building in Guru Harsahai, near Ferozepore. Karuna Goswamy revisited her earlier work on miniatures of Qissa-i-Chahar Darvesh and digressed from her earlier conclusions.


Johar revisits Ranjha’s anguish
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 14
Exquisite performances by multi-faceted artistes painted the night in many hues, each wonderful to behold and experience. Each moment was a treat, to savour long after it was over, as Navtej Johar, Madan Gopal Singh and Shubha Mudgal rendered magic at the Patiala Heritage Festival last night.

Navtej Johar, who has redefined the Punjabi male machismo, presented his dance drama ‘Fana’a’ as Ranjha Revisited’ to soul-wrenching Sufi singing of Madan Gopal Singh, accompanied by Rekha Raj. Adhyay after adhyay unfolded as the consummate performance held everyone spellbound. Navtej and his team of Radhica Laukaran and Anil Panchal danced dramatically in tandem to the powerful singing of Heer and Ranjha’s anguish. The piece blended the north with the south, wedding two archetypical narratives — love legend of Heer-Ranjha with Kutrala Kuravanji, a genre of dance drama from Tamil Nadu, in which a gypsy foretells the heroine Vasantvalli of her destined union with Lord Shiva.

Johar combined classical elements of bharatanatyam and kathak, with avante-garde and pirouettes and swinging trances reminiscent of derveshes, to weave a beautiful presentation which defied categorisation. Johar blurred the boundaries of various forms as imperceptibly they led to one another, to and fro. Besides madan Gopal singing Ranjha, G. Elanovan rendered the Carnatic vocal music.

Dr Madan Gopal Singh is a leading Sufi lyricist, composer, singer and scholar. A treasurehouse of Sufi poetry, he is best known for his rendition fro Punjabi Sufi texts and love legends and has translated a wide range of Sufi lyrics into Punjabi, Hindustani and English.

The powerful anguish in Madan Gopal’s voice was a performance in itself as was Johar’s expression and dancing. The two could be enjoyed separately as well as in unison as Ranjha changed into Shiva, Vasantvalli, Sakhi, and Heer. Ranjha was the pivot, harbinger of continuity but rejecting the conception of a rigid and stable identity.

Subha Mudgal began in raag bhageswari with ‘sakhi re man lage na’ and took up raag basant next, the singing of a woman’s desire to meet her lover. She ended with holi as Aneesh Pradhana, a disciple of table maestro Pt Nikhil Ghosh, accompanied her on the tabla and Sudhir Nayak on the harmonium.

Lieut-Gen Daljeet Singh, G-o-C, Western Command, was the chief guest.


Bhattal keeps Cong leaders waiting for six hours
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 14
The Deputy Chief Minister and the Minister for Technical Education, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, today laid the foundation stone of a government college in remote area of Narot Jaimal Singh. She along with the local MLA Mr Rumal Chand and the Rajya Sabha member Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder also addressed a rally in the area.

When asked about the recruitment of teachers, she said that the recruitment of teachers in the state would start from college.

Earlier, Ms Bhattal kept the authorities of the Beant Singh Engineering College and Congress leaders from the area waiting for about six hours. She was scheduled to reach Gurdaspur at 10.30 am.

Only Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Minister for Urban Development, reached the college campus on time. He was received by the college staff and seated in a room. However, Mr Puri fumed at being left alone in the room. He vent his ire against the college Principal who arrived a little late and threatened to complain against him to Ms Bhattal.

The Congress leaders, including Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Khushal Behl, former minister and local MLA, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Minister for Urban Development, Mr Ashok Sharma, MLA from Pathankot and Chairman PTDC and Mr Raman Bhalla, member administration, PSEB, gathered at Gurdaspur to receive Ms Bhattal.

At about 12.30 pm a message cam that the helicopter in which Ms Bhattal was coming was about to land. All the Congress leaders along with their supporters reached Government College, Gurdaspur where the helicopter was to land. However, they kept staring toward the sky. Ms Bhattal with informing the galaxy of leaders that had gathered at Gurdaspur flew directly to Narot Jaimal reversing her schedule with any prior notice.

This left the leaders fuming. She arrived at the college at 4 pm and received flowers that wilted in the hands of students since morning. 


SGPC to set up Sikh sangharsh museum
Tribune News Service

Alamgir (Ludhiana), February 14
After beating a retreat over erecting the ‘minar-e-shaheedan’ in memory of those killed in Operation Bluestar at Darbar Sahib, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has decided to go ahead with a similar memorial in a different format. The SGPC will set up a “modern high-tech museum” within the Darbar Sahib complex in front of the langar hall. It will depict the “entire Sikh sangharsh, including the period of Operation Bluestar and the 1984 Delhi riots. A decision to this effect was taken here today at the executive meeting of the SGPC which was presided over by the president, Mr Avtar Singh.

About the need of setting up another museum within the Darbar Sahib complex the SGPC President said it would include different facets of Sikh history, including the modern phase of the turbulent period of the eighties and early nineties. The entire expenditure on the museum would be borne by US-based Darshan Singh Dhaliwal.

Mr Avtar Singh also announced that to get the thousands of acres of SGPC land vacated from the illegal occupants, the SGPC would approach the courts. He pointed out that SGPC land which had been leased had further been sublet by people. A three-member committee would be set up to identify this land and seek legal aid for getting it evacuated.

On the issue of Akal Takht first issuing interim punishment to former Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managing Committee (DSGMC) president Paramjit Singh Sarna and his brother and the DSGMC president, Mr Harvinder Singh Sarna, and later retreating, Mr Avtar Singh claimed that the SGPC “did not interfere” in the functioning of Akal Takht. He said the Akal Takht decisions and hukumanamas should be accepted by everybody. He criticised Mr Sarna for trying to first defy the Akal Takht directive and then saying that he had accepted the Takht authority with all humility.


Act against human trafficking soon
Anuradha Shukla
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 14
The state Assembly is getting ready to pass a new law against human trafficking in the forthcoming Assembly session. The new law proposes to have travel agents registered with the government after depositing a big amount as security and when the Act becomes a reality, the travel agents will have to face strict punishment for duping people and will have to pay a heavy fine. They might even have to lose their property as it could be confiscated.

The Act also proposes the constitution of a fund by the state government to be called the Punjab State Human Trafficking Victim Relief Fund. The fund will include the amount received from confiscated property.

Any person wanting to be a travel agent will have to get himself registered under the Act and will have to procure a license, which could be cancelled in case of bankruptcy of the agent.

For the license, the agent will have to furnish a guarantee of Rs 10 lakh or by way of pledging immovable assets, which must be free from disputes.

The Act also provides for search and seizure of the premises of the travel agent offices. Any executive magistrate or gazetted officer of the police or any other department of the state government will be empowered to conduct searches by way of a special order of the government.


TB kills more women than any other infectious disease: expert
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 14
About 400 patients, suffering from various chest diseases, heart ailments etc, were examined and given treatment free of cost at a “chest diseases, TB and other common diseases check up camp”, organised by the Manav Chetna Manch at Bhawanigarh, about 22 km from here, today. A team of doctors including Dr A.S. Azad, SMO, Bhawanigarh; and Dr Surinder Singla, in charge, District TB Centre, Civil Hospital, Sangrur; examined the patients.

Inaugurating the camp Mr Manjit Singh Sodhi, Chairman, Market Committee, Bhawanigarh, appealed to the NGOs to organise such camps in the slum areas at regular intervals as TB and other infectious diseases were more common in the slum areas.

Dr Surinder Singla, chest and TB diseases specialist, urged the gathering to avoid intoxicants (drugs and tobacoo products) as these increased incidence of TB and chest diseases in a big way. He said TB was killing more adults, especially females, than any other infectious disease.


Make auto dippers mandatory, says PIL
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 14
A Punjab and Haryana High Court lawyer has moved a petition in public interest challenging the notification issued by the Union Ministry of Roads and Surface Transport through which it had done away with the clause in the Central Motor Vehicles Rules dealing making auto dippers mandatory for heavy goods transport vehicles.

In her petition, advocate Priya Gupta has also sought directions to the respondents to strictly enforce the Section 125 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules. Sub-rule (4) of these Rules made it mandatory for every motor vehicle, other than a motor cycle and three-wheelers of engine capacity not exceeding 500 cc, to be equipped with auto dippers.

Ms Gupta has also prayed that manufacturers of all vehicles be directed to equip the vehicles with auto dippers and the regional transport authorities be directed not to register any vehicle or allow any vehicle without auto dippers to ply on the road.

Saying that in the present Indian conditions, auto dippers should be made mandatory as they could prevent a lot of accidents from taking place, the petitioner has pointed out that in many other countries, use of auto dippers has been made mandatory and is being enforced by various agencies.

She has claimed that an amendment making use of auto dippers mandatory was brought about by the Indian Government but nothing substantial was ever done to ensure the proper enforcement of this amendment.

Today, after hearing her counsel, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Surya Kant issued notices to the Government of India and the Governments of Punjab and Haryana for April 18.


VHP, Bajrang Dal protest against V-Day
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 14
The theme was Red this Valentine’s Day as young girls and boys dressed in red.

However, VHP, Bajrang Dal and Mahila Durga Vahini took out a procession here against “foreign concept.

They burnt the effigy of St Valentine and carried placards saying “Apni behney, apney bhai, yeh Valentine ki pratha kahan sey aayi”. They also burnt a heap of Valentine cards.

Mr Rakesh Maidan and Mr Lajpat Rai of the Bajrang Dal along with women shouted slogans and said India would not tolerate the “vulgarity” on display. They decried big companies for spoiling the youth in the race to sell their products.

Undeterred with the protest, boys and girls were seen in large numbers at hotspots of the city.

The price of a single rose that is usually sold for Rs 20, shot up to Rs 80 to Rs 100.


After son, Kamlesh loses husband
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, February 14
Close on the heels of the death of Ms Kamlesh’s son in a hospital yesterday, her husband died in a road accident near the Shambhu barrier in the wee hours today.

The family members were taking the body of Dinesh (25) from Ludhiana to Morena in Gwalior.

Dinesh could not survive an operation at the hospital in Ludhiana yesterday.

His father, Raj Kumar, a Sub-Major posted at Pathankot, had hired a Qualis around 2.30 a.m. to take the body. Around 4.30 a.m., the vehicle rammed into a truck parked along the highway as the driver could not negotiate the stationary vehicle, killing the Army man on the spot.

The seven relatives travelling in the vehicle — Ms Kamlesh, her daughter-in-law Rita, Ramdev Singh, Sulochan Singh, Kapil Dev Singh, Kushna and Rupa — were injured.

The driver of the Qualis was absconding. An amount of about Rs 80,000 was missing.


Claims invited from riot victims
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 14
The district administration has invited claims from the 1984 riot victims who had migrated from other states to Punjab.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari, said today that counters had been set up at Bathinda, Rampura Phul and Talwandi Sabo subdivisions at their SDM offices to receive their claims, which should be presented before February 22. 


Prem Bhatia scholarships for young journalists

Chandigarh, February 14
The Prem Bhatia Memorial Trust has invited applications for Prem Bhatia Memorial Scholarship for Young Journalists, 2006.

The Trust has invited applications by March 15, along with a bio data, synopsis of the proposed subject of research, three clippings of recently published work and a reference from the candidate’s Editor or employer.

The Trust gives two scholarships and each of these is for Rs 75,000 for a year, which are sponsored by the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust.

A one time annual award of Rs 25,000 will be given to the best young journalist, under the age of 30 years, who has shown the most promise in reporting on Environmental or Social Affairs. — TNS


Jawan killed as rifle goes off accidentally
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 14
Jandish Chander (24), a jawan with 10 Brigade, was killed when his rifle went off accidentally here today. He died on the spot and police after completing formalities under section 174 of the CrPC handed over the body to the brigade. According to information, he was returning his rifle when it accidentally went off.


Farmers take to vegetable farming
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 14
Even as Punjab’s water table is depleting and agricultural experts are talking diversification, farmers of Kattar Singh Wala and its nearby villages have set an example by taking up vegetable farming.

Talking to The Tribune, Kulwant Singh, who owns 40 acres, said: “Unlike previous years I chose not to depend entirely on the traditional crop cycle of paddy-wheat. I have sown cauliflower and carrot on over five acres.” Content with impressive returns in vegetable farming, he said he had to shell out Rs 15,000 per acre on agricultural inputs, while he would earn Rs 25,000 from the yield.

He said though normally an acre produced 100 quintals of cauliflower, this time it would be down to 80 quintals.

A majority of the farmers of the village have opted for cauliflower, which has been sown on 45 acres. Carrot is sown on 15 acres while potato accounts for merely 5 acres.

Neela Singh, who has sown cauliflower on 4 acres, is happy with his decision of not sowing wheat. “Cauliflower cultivation is less time consuming compared to wheat and it also doesn’t need much protection. Luckily, there have been no pest attacks till now,” he said. Mukhdev Singh has also sown cauliflower on 3 acres and carrot on 5 acres. He said they were producing quality vegetables using fresh irrigation water and minimising spray of pesticides.

Another farmer Mandar Singh said cauliflower’s demand was high, particularly in the marriage season and they didn’t have to put in much effort in its marketing. “In case of paddy and wheat, the selling of the produce depends a lot on the government agencies’ specifications,” he added.


Wheat, flour prices fall
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Chandigarh, February 14
The price of wheat has started falling in the open market. Sources said today that the price had come down to Rs 925 per quintal in Patiala and also in Haryana. Consequently, the price of wheat flour had also come down by at least Rs 2 per kg.

In the second week of January, the price of wheat had started shooting up. By the end of January, the price had gone up to Rs 1,050 per quintal in Chandigarh. However it was a little lower in various grain markets of Punjab and Haryana. The price of wheat flour had also increased to Rs 13 per kg. However, today the price of wheat flour was Rs 11 per kg in Patiala and other cities and towns of Punjab.

Mr Harpal Singh Anand, president of the Patiala Flour Mills Association, said the Food Corporation of India (FCI) had released wheat for roller flour mills and “chakkies” in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh recently. Each licensed “chakki” was given 10 tonnes of wheat a few days ago. However, in the case of mills, the allocation was much higher. That led to an easing of the wheat and flour prices in the market. Mr Anand said that wheat issued by the FCI to mills cost about Rs 860 per quintal.

The Union Government’s decision to import wheat has also led to a drop in the wheat price.

Meanwhile, the FCI said it would release more wheat in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. Mr T.C. Gupta, Senior Regional Manager of the FCI for Punjab and Haryana, said today that 2 lakh quintals of wheat would be released to mills and “chakkis” in Punjab and Chandigarh in addition to 3 lakh tonnes released since January 21 this year. He said 1.50 lakh quintals of wheat would be released to Haryana in addition to 1.20 lakh quintals released in the past three weeks.

Mr Gupta said in Punjab and Chandigarh each mill would be allocated 25,00 quintals of wheat. For “chakkis”, the allocation would be made on the basis of the additional demand for wheat by them. The area managers of the FCI had been directed to collect information regarding the additional demand from “chakkis”. In the case of Haryana, applications from mills would be sought for the issuance of wheat by giving an advertisement in the print media. The allocation of wheat would be made to them by February 18, he added. — TNS


Go for pulses: experts
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 14
“Do away with paddy and grow more pulses to save Punjab and make economic position of farmers strong”. This is a message from the experts participating in the two-day workshop on Punjab-Human Development Report-2004, organised jointly by the Department of Commerce and Business Management and Centre for Studies of Punjab Politics of Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, inaugurated the workshop. Dr Aulakh said if Punjab were to make its economy strong, it would have to shift from paddy and wheat to pulses and edible oils etc.

He urged intellectuals, agricultural experts, policy makers and the representatives of the farmers to sit together to devise strategies to tackle the problems of the farmers of the state as agriculture is the mainstay of the country.

Dr S.S. Narang, Director of the Centre for Studies of Punjab Politics, also spoke on the occasion.


Youths booked for raping minor
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 14
A minor was allegedly raped by two youths at Bhagu village, near here. The Sadar police today registered a case against the accused.

According to the complaint, the 16-year-old girl was promised by her neighbour, Ramesh Kumar Dhanak, that he would marry her. As they were going to the nearby fields, Surinder Kumar of the same village met them. Ramesh introduced him as a friend and said the would help in the marriage ceremony. The girl was, however, repeatedly raped by both, the police said. She was allowed to return home the next morning.

No arrest has been made so far.

In another case, Pardeep was booked by the police for allegedly trying to molest a class IV student at her house in the Nai abadi locality. When she raised the alarm, neighbours gathered and nabbed the accused.

Two senior office-bearers of the Durgiana Market Association and the Nai Abadi Sudhar Sabha said they were shocked to find most of the policemen on duty in an inebriated condition.

The accused has been arrested.


BJP leader hurt in clash

Phagwara, February 14
Punjab BJP S/C Morcha Vice president and Zila Parishad member Kashmir Singh Mahi and three others were injured in a clash between two groups at Jagpalpur village near here yesterday, the police said.

Besides Mahi the others who were hurt include his brother Charanjit Singh and cousin Manjit Singh besides Dali Ram who belonged to the rival group.

All were admitted to local civil hospital. The police said that sharp-edged weapons were used in the clash.

Personal enmity was said to be the cause of the clash. The police has registered a case under Sections 452/323/324/341 and 34 of the IPC. — UNI


Foundation stone of college laid
Our Correspondent

Narot Jaimal Singh (Pathankot), February 14
Deputy Chief Minister Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal laying the foundation stone of a college here on Tuesday, said the Amarinder Singh Government had allocated Rs 1 crore for a degree college here and the classes would begin from coming academic session at the government, senior secondary school here till the college’s building came up. Decision to set up a government college at Narot Jaimal Singh comes after the announcement of two government colleges at Guru Har Sahai and Moonak in Malwa recently.

Ms Bhattal, who also holds charge of Technical Education and lndustrial Training said, there were also demands for setting up government colleges at Pathankot and Sujanpur, but the decision to set up a degree college here was taken keeping in view poverty and lack of education in the border area. The students in the area were facing great difficulties and had to go for higher education to far-flung places like Pathankot and Gurdaspur.

Assuring Housing and Urban Minister Raghunath Sahai, who was also present at the function, said a similar college would be set up in Sujanpur shortly announcement for which would be made in March, 2006.

Border areas have shortage of teachers in schools and government hospitals lacked Medicare facilities, the Deputy Chief Minister said, the government had decided to fill all 13000 ETT teacher’s posts recruitment drive for which would begin from April 1, 2006. Similarly, in each constituency three mobile vans equipped with doctors will provide modern medical facilities in the state”.

Rajya Sabha member Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder said, during their last visit to Narot Jaimal Singh, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Ms Bhattal had promised the college in the area with today’s announcement the Congress government had fulfilled promise.

Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri said, low-cost houses would be built for SCs and STs shortly at Sujanpur, Gurdaspur and Pathankot.


Punjab varsity non-teaching staff to hold dharna
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 14
Activists of the Punjabi University Employees Association (non-teaching) today decided to stage a dharna against the university authorities for not reinstating suspended employees.

The decision was taken by the association after holding a gate rally to press the authorities concerned to accept their demands and reinstate the suspended employees.

Mr Gurlal Singh, president of the association, who along with other office-bearers addressed the rally, demanded that all those retired teachers, who had been taken on job again on contract basis should be removed immediately. Not only this, he said the association was also of the view that members of the teaching faculty should not perform the duties of non-teaching staff.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |