P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Farmers may get Rs 20 as bonus on wheat
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
The Union Government is expected to give Rs 20 per quintal as bonus on wheat. The Punjab Government has sought Rs 50 per quintal increase in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of wheat.

Informed sources said that the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, had promised to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to make a strong recommendation to the Union Council of Ministers to increase the procurement price of wheat.

As the Union Government has announced the MSP at Rs 650 per quintal of wheat, there is no possibility of enhancing the MSP at this stage. However, to compensate farmers, they can be given bonus on wheat. In case the Union Government increased the MSP to Rs 670 per quintal this year, next year it will have to increase the MSP further by keeping the current year’s MSP as base. The average increase in the MSP of wheat in the past five years is Rs 10 per quintal per year.

“During the past five years’, there was only 1.6 per cent increase each year in the MSP of wheat whereas price of inputs including diesel had gone up about 30 per cent”, said a wheat expert. While increasing the MSP, the Union Government also kept in mind the interests of consumers. Big increase in the MSP of wheat could hit poor people hard and could create political problems for the Government in the process, he added.

Meanwhile, the Union Government has also promised to clear the Halwara International Airport project by March.

The proposal regarding the Defence University at Patiala is expected to come up at the next meeting of the Union Council of Ministers. The proposal to waive the security related loan worth Rs 3,772 crore is being examined by the Union Finance Ministry. Punjab was given the loan long back to tackle militancy.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Council of Ministers will meet on February 18 to approve the Bills and other financial business to be presented in the Punjab Assembly’s Budget session scheduled to start on February 20.


CM bartering away state’s interests: Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 15
The general secretary of the SAD (Badal) and Member of Parliament, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, yesterday alleged that the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was bartering away the interests of the state and was cheating the people.

He alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh gave undue share of the river waters of Punjab to Rajasthan last year and now he had connived with the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, to take more water to Haryana by digging a new canal originating from the Bhakra main line at the cost of farmers in Punjab.

Asked about his comments over the disclosure made in a book authored by a former Director, Intelligence Bureau (IB), that one of the Chief Ministers of the country was having links with Pakistan’s ISI, he said that Capt Amarinder Singh, along with a former president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna had met top militants and held meetings with supporters of the Khalistan movement during their recent visit to Pakistan. He said Capt Amarinder Singh had taken a siropa at a function organised by supporters of the Khalistan movement at Dixie gurdwara in Canada. All these things should be probed to find out who was having links with the ISI.

Addressing mediapersons, he alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh was allowing a liquor contractor to loot Punjab.

Mr Sukhbir Badal, a former Union Minister, alleged that the state government was planning to open recruitment in Punjab to collect money from unemployed youths. He alleged that each Congress MLA would be given 50 posts for selling these to unemployed youths. He added that Capt Amarinder Singh was observing the current year as a “ year of loot”.

He alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh had cheated teachers, students, traders and farmers on different pretexts and was making false promises to people to woo them as the next Assembly elections were drawing near.

The Akali leader said if his party was voted to power, it would try Mr Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, Media Adviser to the Chief Minister, and Mr Vishnu Sharma, Mayor, Municipal Corporation, Patiala, for forcing Congress worker Gopal Krishan Kashyap to burn himself to death. He added that Mr Chahal would also be booked under the Dowry Act for taking expensive cars from the in-laws of his son, Mr Bikram Inder Singh Chahal.


SAD dharna against govt
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 15
Hundreds of activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) today held a dharna in front of DC’s office here against the Capt Amarinder Singh led Congress government for its failure to nab culprits who caused damage to the foundation stones of the stadium and a park in Tohra village to be constructed in memory of late Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Hundreds of people from all walks of life and workers of SAD (Badal) participated in the dharna and they gave an ultimatum to the government to nab culprits at the earliest or face consequences.

Among those who addressed the dharna included Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, general secretary, SAD, Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal, Mr Harmal Singh Tohra, Mr Surjit Singh Kohli and Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra.

The SAD leaders blamed the Congress government for its failure to nab the culprits who were involved in causing damage to the foundation stones and alleged that it was the handiwork of Congress party.

They pointed out that at the time of the death of Jathedar Tohra Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to gain political mileage had announced a series of facilities for family of Jathedar Tohra

They said that government and the Congress had been apprehending that it would suffer setback in the coming Assembly election and it had started indulging in dirty politics to come to power.

They said the next course of action against the government would be drawn up at the death anniversary programme of Jathedar Tohra to be held on March 4 at Tohra village.


Congress Bhavan or govt office?
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 15
For a while the local district Congress office appeared to be an extension counter of the District Food and Civil Supplies Department. Three senior officials — an Assistant District Food Controller, a Deputy Food and Supplies Officer, and an Assistant Food and Supplies Officer — assisted by a team of junior officials, accepted application forms for issuing ration cards to them. This was done under the direct supervision of the District Congress Committee, Ludhiana (Urban), president, Mr Jagmohan Sharma.

While Congress leaders tried to take the credit for helping people to get their applications accepted on the spot, opposition parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party alleged it was “politicisation of government departments”. The BJP questioned the logic of holding a camp on the office premises of the ruling party.

The District Food and Supplies Controller, Ms Simarjot Kaur, sought to present a strong defence saying that it was just a coincidence that the camp was held at the Congress office. She told The Tribune that there had been a number of applicants and the department wanted a “central place” which could be easily accessible to the people. The choice of the Congress office was just coincidental, she claimed, as her office happened to be on the other side of the city at Sarabha Nagar.

Although district officials tried to play it down, the Congress leaders appeared to be more sanguine about it. The local Congress office issued a press note claiming that the “long pending demand of the people” for preparing ration cards was finally met after food officials accepted the applications at Congress Bhavan only. The press note also mentioned that ration cards would be issued to the applicants on February 24 at Congress Bhavan itself. The Congress leaders said there was nothing wrong in the department holding a camp at their office. “This was no political function but simply an arrangement in the interests of the general public”, said a Congress leader.

However, a senior BJP leader and former Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, Mr Satpal Gosain, alleged, “This is total politicisation of state government offices”. He observed that earlier officials would help the Congress clandestinely, but now they had been doing it openly.

He apprehended that in the coming days such “blatant misuse of government machinery” would be more frequent in the state.


Benaras magic casts spell at Patiala fest
Rubinder Gill
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 15
It was night of involvement of the artistes with the audience as noted kathak dancer Aditi Mangaldas and Pt Chhannu Lal Misra of the Benaras Gharana cast their magic spell at the Patiala Heritage Festival last night. The two swayed their way into the audience’s hearts, unfolding a special relationship.

Thumri Samrat Pt Channu Lal Misra brought the sweetness of Benaras, the moment he took the stage, captivating the audience with his voice, appeal and music. Calling the stage his mandir, where he would perform his aradhana, he asked the audience to enjoy the sangam of ‘sur and taal’ that he was going to unfold. His superb combination of ‘sangeet and sahitya’ hooked the connoisseurs and novices alike as he constantly interacted with music lovers.

The thunder of clapping at the end of Aditi Mangaldas’ performance had barely died down as Pt Chhannu Lal Misra’s session took off to a roaring start with ‘husn bekar hai je chahnewala na ho’. Starting with a prayer addressed to Goddess Durga, ‘Jai Durge’, he shifted to thumri on raas Leela of Radha and Krishna, ‘Bayakul bahye brij maein bansuriya ab na bajao shyam.

Panditji explained the four components that make up a thumri, singing them separately for the novices. He then proceeded to explain and demonstrate the underlying ras in Benaras, Purab and Punjab.

Next came a thumri which he pulled out of the family treasure, ‘Rang rangili rasili’, a composition of Panditji’s grandfather. Dadra, ‘Tooreh nainain ke lagi katar’ followed, preceded by couplet on the aspects of ‘nain and nazar’.

‘Nazar unchi ki toh dua ban gayi, nazar nichi ki toh haya ban gayi, nazar tirschi ki toh ada ban gayi, aur nazar phair hi li toh kaza ban gayi.’ The sheer beauty and simplicity of the poetry left little else to be said.

Holi of Benaras could not be far behind with ‘Rang daaron gi nand ke lalan pe’. Bowing to audiences demand, Panditji rendered the ghazal ‘Jo baat abhi dil mein hai ek roz zuban tak aeygi’.

Earlier, Aditi Mangaldas’ spectacular Anant Yatra held all spellbound with the clang and rhythm of bells. Along with Rohit Lal, Gauri Dipankar and Rashmi Uppal, Aditi was greeted with thunderous applause at end of all episodes.

The night of appreciation ended with Pt Chhannu Lal Misra reciting, ‘mein apne chaman se door nahin, jab phool khilega gulshan mein khushbo yahan tak aeyigi.’


Don’t toy with phulkari, craftsmen told
Tribune News Service

Students of Budha Dal Public School participate in a mask-making workshop at the Patiala Heritage Festival at Sheesh Mahal
Students of Budha Dal Public School participate in a mask-making workshop at the Patiala Heritage Festival at Sheesh Mahal on Wednesday.
— Tribune photo by Rajesh Sachar

Patiala, February 15
Handicrafts and textiles were in limelight at a workshop on ‘Crafts and Textiles of the Punjab’ at Old Moti Bagh Palace held during the Patiala Heritage Festival here today. It focused on sustaining and promoting them.

Phulkari hogged the limelight as Ms Kusum Chopra, Professor, National Institute of Fashion Technology, exhorted craftspersons to stick to the original Phulkari cloth so that its uniqueness did not get lost in the commercial values ruling the market forces.

Mr S.K.Misra, Vice-Chairman, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, said they would open outlets in the city and other areas to sell the products prepared by craftspersons from surrounding areas.

Ms Jaya Jaitley, president, Handicrafts Haat Samiti, said the focus should be to attract tourists on the basis of unique culture and handicrafts that our country could offer to tourists. She appreciated the idea of the Patiala heritage week, adding that the scope of such a heritage festival should be much wider. It should not be limited to a city, but should encompass the whole of Punjab.

Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh floated the idea of forming and funding a self-help group which could help and train such craftspersons.

In the declamation contests held at Sheesh Mahal today, Charu Verma of Greenwell School stood first in the senior wing section while Ramandeep Verma of Civil Lines School was second. In the junior wing section IPS was first while Feel Khanna finished was second. The topic was ‘Why do I like Patiala’.


SAD (A) to join hands with Dal Khalsa
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 15
The Shiromani Akali Dal (A) is keen on a third front in Punjab to oppose the Congress and SAD-BJP, but it has had a bitter experience in this connection.

Though anti-Parkash Singh Badal and anti-Congress forces had joined hands with SAD (A) during last state Assembly elections, leaders like the late Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Ravi Inder Singh betrayed others for their selfish motives due to which the real purpose of the alliance fizzled out.

This was stated by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of SAD (A), while talking to mediapersons at the residence of Mr Harcharanjit Singh Dhami, former working president of the Dal Khalsa, here today.

He said the SAD (A) would join hands with forces like the Dal Khalsa and others practising principle-based politics in the forthcoming elections of the state Assembly.

He alleged that Congress and SAD-BJP leaders looted state government exchequer.


Foreign Secretary to visit Wagah soon
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
The Foreign Secretary, Mr Shyam Saran, will visit the Wagah border and Attari railway station soon to get first-hand information on the steps needed to provide better facilities at these two places to those who cross the international border.

Mr M.S. Gill, Member of the Rajya Sabha from Punjab, said the issue of providing better facilities at Attari railway station and the Wagah checkpost was raised by him today at a meeting of the Parliament Committee on External Affairs. He said that besides members of the committee, the Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr E. Ahamed, the Foreign Secretary and other senior officers were present.

Another important issue raised by Mr Gill was of a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan to India via Pakistan. Mr Gill said he had urged the Union Government to consider this proposal. While the pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan is being opposed by the USA, it is not opposed to a pipeline from Turkmenistan.

For the country’s energy security, the Union Government should work on various options, he added. The External Affairs Ministry could play a significant role in this connection. A few days ago a meeting of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan was held on the gas pipeline issue. India also participated in that meeting as an observer. The committee was informed by the officers concerned that India was closely watching developments with regard to this project.

Talking to The Tribune on the telephone from Delhi, Mr Gill said he told Mr Ahamed that what had happened to Indian cricket fans at the Wagah border recently had not been liked by anyone. This happened because of the woefully inadequate facilities at the Wagah border for the clearance of those crossing over to Pakistan from India. “I told Mr Ahamed that the Wagah border was a gateway not only to Pakistan but also to Central and Western Asia and even to Europe. There was immediate need to provide facilities similar to those available at the international airports in Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi,” said Mr Gill.

Mr Ahamed had assured him that Mr Saran would visit Attari and Wagah at the earliest.

The issue of setting up a visa office of Pakistan in Amritsar was also raised. He said the External Affairs Ministry would discuss this issue with all concerned including the Home Ministry.

The External Affairs Ministry was also told to write to the Surface Transport Ministry to build an exclusive six-lane express highway from Delhi to Amritsar and further up to the Wagah border keeping in view the substantial increase in vehicular traffic on the Delhi-Amritsar route.

Mr Gill said he told the Minister that the starting of the bus service between Amritsar and Lahore was a welcome development. But as common people travelled in the bus there was need to reduce the fares.


MC against abolishing octroi
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 15
The local Municipal Council has appealed to the Punjab Government not to abolish octroi in the state as such a step was against public interest and will adversely affect development works in various towns.

The appeal was made to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Minister for Local Government, Mr Jagjit Singh, at the monthly meeting of the council held here today. The council president, Mr Charanjit Singh, said since octroi was the main source of income, its abolition would hit development works.

He said the government would not help traders by abolishing octroi as the financial burden in this regard was being borne by general public, which was not against octroi. Trader community was not paying octroi from its pockets but was passing it on to the consumers.

He said if the government really wanted to help the people of Punjab it should waive water and sewerage charges in the state so that every section of society could enjoy the benefit. Moreover, most of the council employees were engaged in octroi collection and if it was abolished these employees would remain free, but the council would still have to pay their salaries.

The council cleared a proposal relating to the provision of plots to council employees at cheaper rates. The plots would be allotted at a price of Rs 2,800 per sq yd in the five acre plot owned by the civic body at Mundi Kharar. The employees would be asked to make the payments for the plots in one go after taking loans from banks. This would help the civic body to get the payment in lumpsum.

Mr Charanjit Singh said two proposals to improve the supply of water in the town were also cleared at the meeting. A sum of Rs 60 lakh would be spent on installing five new tubewells in the town while another sum of Rs 60 lakhs would be spent to arrange generator sets for 15 tubewells being run at present. Water supply got adversely affected due to power shutdowns and other failures.

It was also decided to computerise water and sewerage bills and install a new intercom system in the office.


MC dumps promise to remove waste
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 15
The Pathankot Municipal Council has once again started dumping solid waste illegally on the banks of Khadi rivulet passing through the town. The place at which the waste has been dumped was being used as mini-bus stand by people going to Shahpur Kandi area.

They are now being forced to bear the stench while waiting for buses. The dumped waste is attracting scavengers. The waste is likely to flow into the rivulet in the monsoons.

Earlier also the council has been using the spot for dumping solid waste. The people of the area had launched an agitation in this regard. The authorities of the Civil Hospital had also written against the solid waste dumping in their backyard.

This forced the council to abandon the dumping site. It had promised to remove the already dumped waste at the spot. They had proposed that the waste would be buried and road constructed on the bundh.

However, tonnes of solid waste dumped at the spot has not been removed as yet. Moreover fresh dumping at the site has further aggravated the situation.

As per the guidelines laid by the Supreme Court all councils in the state have been directed to identify a place for the scientific management of the solid waste. But the Pathankot council it seems has till date just do the paper work in this regard.

It had acquired about 5 acres a few years ago to be used as dumping ground. The land is located in the rivulet bed that cannot be used for solid waste dumping as per the guidelines of the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

The authorities of the council stated that the land has been identified for developing the site for solid waste dumping. It has also been approved by the pollution control board. The proposal for acquisition of the land has now been sent to the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur.

From the pace at which the work for developing the dumping site is going on, it seems that the people will have to suffer for a longer time.


Man accuses SHO of demanding bribe
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 15
A Parasram Nagar resident today lodged a complaint against the Thermal police station SHO with the SSP and also made an unsuccessful attempt to produce before him a carton of liquor that the SHO had reportedly demanded from him, but later denied to accept it owing to its brand.

According to sources, the Thermal police had rounded up complainant Ram Singh’s son Manpreet Singh on the charge of theft on February 11. The complainant alleged that when he went to the Thermal police station next day the SHO, Mr Balwinder Singh, demanded Rs 6,000 from him. “When I expressed my inability to pay the amount and said I could only give Rs 3,000, he sought Rs 3,000 and a carton of liquor,” he alleged. Ram Singh further alleged that when he took a box of Officers’ Choice liquor to the SHO the latter asked him to bring liquor of Peter Scot brand. However, the liquor contractor didn’t replace his liquor box and he requested the SHO to accept the same. He reached the SSP office premises today with the liquor carton when the SHO reportedly turned down his offer once again.

However, the staff there didn’t allow him to produce the box before the SSP.

When contacted, the SSP, Mr Kapil Dev, said he had asked the SP (D) Ajay Maluja to investigate the matter and submit a report to him. The SSP said the SHO’s work was also not up to the mark and he had been transferred to the police lines.


Conference on inter-faith understanding in Lahore
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, February 15
The US-based Sri Nankana Sahib Foundation will host three-day conference on Guru Nanak Heritage of Inter-faith understanding and Harmony in Lahore from February 17. Prime Minister of Pakistan Shaukat Aziz will inaugurate the meet.

Founder Senior Executive Vice-President Bhai Harbans Lal told The Tribune before crossing into Pakistan along with others said the foundation was set up in 1975 in the USA and they would observe 30th anniversary during the three-day meet.

The conference, would shed light on world harmony and peace as preached by Guru Nanak Dev. He said present strife-torn world required spiritual healing through universal love and goodwill. This message was delivered through the teachings of Guru Nanak. The conference will call upon people to build rapport between Sikhs community and Muslims and their coming together would help generate goodwill, closeness between the two communities.

He felt that cordial relations between India and Pakistan held key to world peace as this region required urgent settlement of all issues and would harbinger an era of peace and tranquillity.

Bhai Harbans Lal said the conference would bridge the gap between the two communities and lay emphasis to develop rapport and understanding in keeping with the message of Guru Nanak.

The conference would be co-sponsored by the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

Emeritus Professor of Guru Nanak studies at Guru Nanak Dev University and scholar of Sikhism, Bhai Harbans Lal said Pakistan should allow the Sikhs to manage their shrines and this would generate goodwill. Advocating the US President Eisenhower’s doctrine that all nations should grant the religious rights to the respective communities and allow them to manage their affairs for lasting world peace. The governments must allow the communities for hassle-free access to their shrines.

The international delegates would commemorate February 20 as a day of liberation of Nankana Sahib gurdwara from Mahants where on that day 139 Sikhs were burnt alive in 1920 under the British rule. He said that Mahatma Gandhi had taken this sacrifice as the major plank for launching non-violent movement against the British.


Sikhs to observe Guru Arjan Dev’s martyrdom
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 15
Representatives of various Sikh organisations across the world have assured Mr Avtar Singh, President, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), of their co-operation for the celebration of shatabdi samaroh to be organised in June, July and August, at a meeting called by the SGPC here today.

The SGPC has decided to observe 400th Shaheedi Shatabdi of Guru Arjan Dev on June 16, 400th Akal Takht, establishment Shatabdi on July 2nd and 300th Guru Granth Sahib sampurnta Divas on August 30th.

Mr Avtar Singh addressing the representatives said the SGPC had planned three shatabdies at the world level. In connection with these celebrations seminars would be organised in Canada, the USA and England beside other functions. He said that a nagar kirtan would start from Amritsar to Lahore on June 12th and for this the SGPC had applied for 10,000 visas.

He informed the main function would be held at Tarn Taran and Lahore. The shatabdi of Akal Takht would be celebrated at Amritsar and Guru Granth Sahib Sampurnta Divas at Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo.

The Shiromani committee was keen on meeting expectations of the Sikhs to solve their problems. The SGPC would publish literature on Sikh history and Rehat Maryada.


Quacks having a field day
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 15
While the health services sector has been grappling with poor infrastructure and staff crunch, a number of quacks have set up shops at public places here.

The Tribune team today saw some quacks near the courts, attracting scores of gullible villagers who had come to the city either to attend a hearing of their case or some other work.

As per an estimate, over 100 quacks are operating in different pockets of the city.

Sources said sometimes they also succeeded in wooing people from the urban areas with their countrymade medicines. A majority of the quacks belong to the Chanakyapuri area of New Delhi. Most of them were doing the maximum business around the bus stand.

Though the Civil Surgeon had raided their shops sometime ago, the quacks had resumed work.

The quacks charged between Rs 50 and Rs 150 for the medicines.

A quack said he wasn’t trained in the profession, but he had a long experience in the field.

Another quack having a shop near the SSPs office said, a number of his associates were doing brisk business in the city.

Civil Surgeon H.S. Dhillon said the post of Drug Inspector had been vacant for long and the new Drug Inspector had joined his duties and would soon initiate an action against them.


Farmer’s family ‘thrashes’ PSEB staff
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 15
A farmer hailing from Charik Kothe village reportedly thrashed an SDO and a Junior Engineer of the PSEB when they were penalising him for power theft last night.

Sources said SDO Jaspreet Singh along with a board staff team carried out raids in the Badhani Kalan region to check power thefts. The sources said when he along with JE Bhupinder Singh saw Mukhtiar Singh of Charik Kothe village removing his ‘kundi’ connection. They summoned him and started the process to penalise him.

He got irked and accompanied by his son Nirmal Singh allegedly thrashed both of them and locked them in a room. However, the SDO managed called to called up his other staff members who were conducting raids in the village. The Baghapurana police also reached the spot and got them freed.


Workers allege bungling of forest funds
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 15
The forest workers’ union held a demonstration in support of their demands at the office of the Divisional Forest Officer here today.

More than 500 workers raised slogans against the Punjab Forest Department and Punjab Forest Development Corporation for the “anti-workers” policies.

Union president Rattan Singh Halla alleged that some bigwigs in the department had been misutilising the grant by Japan for certain projects.

He claimed that illicit felling way continuing in the kandi area of Hoshiarpur and Dhar Dunera and Mirthal Bela in Gurdaspur district.

He demanded a high-level probe into the bungling of fund and sought action against erring officers.

The workers also gheraoed the MLA, Mr Ashok Sharma.


Hazuri ragi case hearing on Feb 27

Amritsar, February 15
The hearing in the Hazuri ragi case against SGPC president Avtar Singh and others has been fixed for February 27 by the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC).

Bhai Bakshish Singh, a Hazuri ragi of Harmandar Sahib, was suspended by the SGPC on allegations of moral turpitude. Following this, he filed a petition against Mr Avtar Singh, Mr Dilmeg Singh, secretary, Mr Daljit Singh Bedi, publicity in charge and Mr Ajaib Singh, former manager of the Golden Temple, in the judicial commission.

Bhai Bakshish Singh alleged that he was suspended in an illegal manner though he had already sent his leave applications along with medical reports for the grant of leave for one month. He further described the allegations of misappropriation of gurdwara funds and immoral activities as false with the aim to defame him. — OC


Hindu bodies hold protest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 15
Activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal and several other Hindu organisations today burnt effigies of American liquor manufacturers allegedly marketing their whisky with the picture of Goddess Durga.

Joining their protests on this issue with Hindus in Europe and the USA, they said the manufacturer had attempted to advertise a liquor brand with the images of Goddess Durga riding a tiger and holding number of bottles of whisky in her hands. 


Truck operators block roads to cement plant

Ropar, February 15
Hundreds of truck operators protested against the management of Gujarat Ambuja Cement Limited and the district administration for ignoring their demand to increase the freight charges and against overloading on the national highway to the cement unit. The truck operators blocked all three roads leading to Ambuja cement unit at Daburjee village for an indefinite time period and are an ultimatum if their demands will not be fulfilled within 72 hours they would observe a bandh in the state. — TNS


high court
Poll petition sent to another Bench
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 15
Mr Justice Jasbir Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed that the election petition filed by Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) activist Harkirat Singh, challenging the election of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh from Patiala Assembly constituency in the February 2002 elections, be listed before some other Bench after taking necessary orders from the Chief Justice.

The same Judge had on November 3, 2004, dismissed the same petition on the ground that all necessary material facts had not been disclosed by the petitioner.

The appeal filed by the petitioner in the Supreme Court against the orders of the High Court found favour and the Supreme Court remanded back the case for fresh hearing.

Mr Harkirat Singh, who lives in Patiala, has sought setting aside of election of Capt Amarinder Singh on the ground that the electoral process had been vitiated due to use of undue influence by him. The petitioner has also accused the Chief Minister of having used government machinery to ensure his victory.

Mr Harkirat has alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh won after using the resources of the government. He has cited the case of Mr B.I.S. Chahal, who was then employed with the Punjab Department of Public Relations. Mr Chahal, who is presently Media Advisor to the Chief Minister, had been accused of openly working for Capt Amarinder Singh.


Woman strangled; accused missing
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 15
Shanti Devi who died on January 5 was allegedly strangled as she had seen her granddaughter in a compromising position with Satwinder Singh. This was stated by Dimple, daughter of Manohar Lal, of Rathore Mohalla, Fazilka, in a complaint to the police yesterday.

The police has registered a case under Section 363 and 366 IPC. The complainant said she was sleeping near her cousin on January 5 when Satwinder knocked at the door past midnight. Perhaps expecting him, her cousin opened the door. Meanwhile, Shanti Devi had woken up and expressed her anguish. Satwinder then allegedly strangled her and threatened Dimple with dire consequences if she spoke to any one about it. She may asked to say that Shanti died due to cardiac arrest.

Satwinder fled with her cousin on February 9 and this prompted Dimple to narrate the incident to her relatives and the police, sources said.


Doctor shot dead
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 15
Dr Sheo Ram Swami, an ayurvedic practitioner posted at the government dispensary in Baruwali village in the neighboring area of Rajasthan, was allegedly shot dead late last evening, police sources said.

According to information available with the police control room, Dr Swami was returning to his village Nethrana on Tuesday evening.

One of the assailants has been nabbed and the rifle used by them was recovered.

A case has been registered against Ramji Lal Jat, his brother Mahabir, sons Ram Kumar and Krishan Chander and nephew Mahesh Kumar under Sections 302, 307, 341, 336 and 143 of the IPC and 27, 54 and 59 the Arms Act, sources said.


Man held for stripping girl

Amritsar, February 15
The police today arrested a person for stripping and publically parading a 13-year-old Dalit girl naked in Karion Nangal village yesterday.

Majitha Senior Superintendent of Police Vibhu Raj said the police arrested Sukhdev Singh (40) of the same community, who stripped and paraded the girl naked in the village. He was booked under Sections 354, 506, 284, 342 of the IPC.

Sukhdev told the police that he had committed this act to take revenge on the girl’s brother. — UNI


5 of family injured in accident
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 15
Five persons of a family were injured, two of them seriously, in a collision between a car and a bus at the bus stand here on Monday night.

According to the police, Mr Amrik Singh, his wife Paramjit Kaur, his sister Harpreet Kaur, his son Inderdeep Singh, and his daughter Jasdeep Kaur were going from Chandigarh to Kurali when the accident took place. The injured were taken to the local Civil Hospital.

The medical officer on emergency duty, Ms Neera Gupta, referred Amrik Singh, his wife and sister to the PGI, Chandigarh. While Amrik Singh suffered a fracture, the other two sustained head injuries.


Varsity staff hold dharna
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 15
Activists of the Punjabi University Employees Association (non-teaching) today staged a dharna in front of the office of the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, to press the authorities concerned to accept their demands.

Mr Harish Tewari, general secretary of the association, said their main demands included the reinstatement of suspended employees and the removal of those employees who had been given jobs on contract basis.

He said the association had also urged the Governor, Punjab, and Chancellor of the Punjabi University to intervene in matter and get the demands of employees accepted.


Students on strike
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 15
The students of Engineering College, Bhaddal, here today went on strike against the suspension of three students of second semester.

The students also blocked traffic on the link road claiming these students, two of information technology and one of electrical engineering were targeted by the authorities as they have always been on the front in representing student’s problems.

The Chairman of the college, Ms Kulwinder Kaur said the students were suspended on the allegation that they assaulted one of the teachers during a function.

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