P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Govt in fix over SC order on institutions
Sarbjit Dhaliwal & Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The Congress government in Punjab faces a test of nerves. The matter of withdrawing minority status from Sikh educational institutions in the state is on the boil and a final decision is expected in a day or two.

Two opinions have emerged on the matter at the highest administrative and political levels of the government. Politically, it seems difficult for the government to take the “bold step” of withdrawing the “minority status” of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee run educational institutions such as medical, engineering and other colleges. Legally, the government is bound by an order of the Supreme Court which makes it clear which section comprises a minority community in the state.

Sikhs, who constitute 59 per cent of the population, are actually a majority in Punjab. Hindus form about 37 per cent of the population, followed by Muslims and Christians at 1.6 per cent and 1.2 per cent, respectively. Across the country, Sikhs constitute just 1.9 per cent of the population.

The Supreme Court judgement in the T.M.A Pai Foundation case decided the question related to minorities with reference to the status of an educational institution. It says the minority has to be determined in the context of the state rather than the status of minority at the national level.

The Advocate-General of Punjab, Mr Rajinder Singh Cheema, has already given his view that the concept of minority has to be seen by taking the state as the unit.

Sources said the political thinktank of the party has pointed out to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the possible political ramifications of withdrawing minority status from Sikh educational institutions in this state when the Assembly elections are only year away. Meanwhile, the Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, has also pointed out how the Supreme Court decision allows no room for manoeuvre except withdrawing the status.

He has, according to the sources, put the ball in the court of the Chief Minister to decide the issue by taking all aspects into account. The government will have to decide the issue, because it is going to frame a law to regulate admissions and the fee structure in all professional colleges run by private organisations.

The government may even opt to seek a further clarification from the Supreme Court and allow things to “cooldown”. Till then, the status quo will be maintained, senior functionaries in the government confirmed. There are also reports that certain Sikh organisations may move the apex court.

At present, under the existing laws there was nothing anybody could do to prevent the SGPC-run intuitions from being stripped of their minority status, said the sources. On the other hand, following the Supreme Court order, institutions like those run by the Santam Dharma Society and the DAV management society will be eligible for minority status. Christian and Muslim institutions already enjoy that status.

Also the decision of the Punjab Government will have no impact on the SGPC-run institutions in states like Haryana, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh.

Minority status was accorded to SGPC-run intuitions during the tenure of Mr Parkash Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal as Chief Minister.

Interestingly, according to the latest census report Sikhs in Punjab have a lower literacy level of 67.3 per cent when compared to their national average of 69.4 per cent.


Khalsa Dal chief denies link with Sukhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
Denying any link of his party with controversial former militant and police “cat” Sukhwinder Singh Sukhi, the President of the Shiromani Khalsa Dal, Mr Daljeet Singh Bittu, said here today the CBI and the National Human Rights Commission should find out who was killed in place of Sukhi by the police. Years ago, the police had declared Sukhi dead in an encounter.

Sukhi had claimed that he was associated with the Shiromani Khalsa Dal and a Punjabi magazine being published by it.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Daljeet Singh, who himself remained underground for several years and was a frontline leader of a Sikh Militant organisation, said there were hundreds of “ cats” like Sukhi, who were shown dead in police encounters but were actually patronised and used as “cats” by the police. This was in the knowledge of the Chief Ministers and Governors concerned.

He said that investigation should be done to find out the names of the persons shot dead in place of “ cats” in police encounters. There were many legal and other aspects related to this matter. The state machinery had admitted that it resorted to illegal methods to kill youths in Punjab. He said he was aware of two instances when poor Bihari labourers were killed as “militants” in “fake” police encounters.

He said there was no difference between the previous Badal and the present Amarinder government. Both governments had not dismantled the “ system of cats” used to kill Sikh youths in fake encounters. These “cats” were resorting to crimes and other illegal activities under police patronage.

He said that in 1984 and afterwards, the circumstances were such in Punjab that many Sikh youths took to arms to seek justice. “ But now we want to fight for our goal in a democratic manner and that is why we have formed a political party. To work as a political leader in a democratic system is more challenging and difficult”, he added.

Asked whether Pakistan’s ISI extended support to Punjab militants, Mr Daljeet Singh, said the militants fought on their own because they were emotionally hurt by events during Operation Bluestar. He fully supported the efforts to build good relations with Pakistan.

Asked why Punjab militants killed innocent bus passengers, traders and small shopkeepers in the 80s, Mr Daljeet Singh, said his organisation never supported such killings. However, he said that some militants killed innocent persons out of desperation. But he said “ cats” and other criminals under police patronage also resorted to the killing of innocent persons, rapes and other anti-people actions to defame what he described as the “ Sikh struggle”.

He said his party had not decided whether it should participate in the Assembly elections or not. “ We have a totally different political ideology from that of the mainstream political parties. We want to change this political system and bring about a new system which treats all people on a par”, he said.


Tandon flays rights groups
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
A former Punjab minister and senior BJP leader, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, today criticised the human rights organisations who had questioned the modus operandi of the Punjab Police in countering terrorism. He said it was ironical that these organisations did not raise their voice when terrorists butchered innocent people.

“In those days terrorists were roaming freely in Punjab and were sexually abusing young girls”, he said. A curfew like situation prevailed in Punjab and all shops closed at sunset. There were no night buses and nobody dared to come out of their houses, he said.

“Why is it that the voice and pen of these organisations started flowing fluently when some terrorist was killed”, he asked.


Jathedar issues notices to Barnala’s kin
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 21
Takhat Damdama Sahib Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh has confirmed the issuance of show-cause notices to Ms Surjit Kaur and Mr Gaganjit Singh, both wife and son, respectively, of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor, Tamil Nadu, on February 18 to clarify their position for accepting the sermons and norms (nam lena) of the Sacha Sauda sect at its congregation held at Barnala on February 12, in spite of Guru Granth Sahib being kept at their (Surjit Kaur and Gaganjit Singh) residences.

No doubt Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takhat, was to act in such controversial panthic issues, yet he could also interfere in such regional-level religious matters, stated Jathedar Nandgarh.

Talking to mediapersons at the residence of Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, member of the SGPC and chairman of the management committee, Takht Patna Sahib, here today, he disclosed that a special move had been launched at the rural-level to baptize more and more Sikhs.

On January 29 over 11,000 Sikhs were baptized at Damdama Sahib and another congregation on the eve of 300 years of Sampuranta Diwas of Amrit Sanchar was being organised there on August 30 to baptize over one lakh persons.

Refuting the pardoning of Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, for taking Palki Sahib to Nankana Sahib two months ago by the Jathedar Akal Takhat under any political pressure, Jathedar Balwant Singh also took serious view to the expressions of senior Sikh leader Rajinder Singh of Muktsar against giving the langar seva for 15 days to Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra, an NRI.

It is a noble and a devoted cause and every one has the right to perform it free of cost and under the same the Nishkam Seva Jatha, a foreign-based society, has also been assigned the duty to beautify the Galiara of Takhat Damdama Sahib said Jathedar Nandgarh.

Emphasising upon the SGPC to stop all type of grants to the gurdwaras in Punjab and across the country, he said more and more funds should be utilised for promoting education through job-oriented courses to remove the menace of unemployment


Property bubble begins to burst
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi/Rajpura, February 21
About a couple of months back, the city’s periphery was hot property. However, the property bubble has started to burst in Chandigarh’s periphery, spreading panic among property dealers and investors.

Though property dealers term this as a “passing phase”, independent inquiries reveal that the prices have started coming down by up to 20 %.

A random survey of the peripheral towns such as Zirakpur, Dera Bassi, Rajpura and Lalru reveal that property transactions have drastically come down. In a majority of cases where “biana” has been paid, the actual registrations are being “delayed” on account of the current fluid situation, say sources.

A lot of speculative buying and selling had been taking place in this belt and now with the investors and property dealers adopting a “wait and watch” policy, the transactions have come down.

It may be recalled that the uncertainty over the exact area to be covered by the overbridge at Zirakpur and the four-laning project of the Chandigarh-Ambala had an adverse impact on the transactions of commercial property.

A property consultant at Zirakpur conceded, on condition of anonymity, that the property dealers are passing through hard times.

“Whatever goes up must come down and the same is happening with property prices. The speculation which had pushed property out of the reach of the common man, is a thing of the past now,” said Mr PC Sharma.

With the end of the financial year about a month away, investors and the general public are fighting shy of entering into new property transactions.

However, Mr Tarlochan Singh, president of the Chandigarh Property Consultants Association, claimed that January/February are usually lean months for property transactions. The end of financial year, coupled with the investors’ “wait and watch” policy had a slight affect on property prices. However, the property boom will stage a comeback in April.

Moreover, the slump in real estate market can be gauged from the fact that a majority of promoters, including mega projects, are going for “pre-launch” booking of residential plots and flats. This indicates that the prices advertised are “inflated” and the supply exceeds the demand, the sources added.


Govt to set up education reforms commission
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 21
Keeping in view the recent trend of globalisation in the field of education, the Punjab Government is shortly going to set up an education reforms commission to find out the requirements of our youth and suggest measures to streamline and make education job oriented.

The purpose of the exercise is to lead to the balanced development of the personalities of the youth as well as to create avenues for employment. The government would immediately implement the suggestions made by it.

The commission would also suggest the fees to be charged as per the infrastructure provided by the educational institution, said Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, while addressing media persons at the Canadian Institute of International Studies (CIIS) at Jalbehra village after signing an MoU with the Thompson Rivers University, Canada, today.

She said that as the government did not have sufficient means to provide top quality infrastructure to our students, we have decided to tie up with foreign educational institutions to impart foreign education to our youth in our own motherland.

She said that the whole world is keeping a close watch on Punjabi youth to impart them high-quality foreign education, so that they may get employment in their country.

She said that since Punjab has the best infrastructure and educational atmosphere, technical education has been introduced in 345 schools of the state. She said that government is also making efforts to introduce dual-degree system, so that foreign institutions may recognise Indian degrees and vice versa. This will help students get job any where in the world.

She said that top educational institutions of the Punjab government—Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar and Punjab Technical University, Jallandhar —are also going to sign MoUs with foreign universities.

Answering a query about the recruitment of the ETT teachers, she said that the committee headed by her has suggested that the recruitment should be made on permanent basis.

She said that to implement the 73rd amendment is their constitutional obligation and they would implement it and would not succumb to any pressure of ETT teachers.

Addressing the gathering, Cyndi Leod, Vice-President, Thompson River University, said that an MoU has been signed with CIIS to start various job-oriented courses as well as to impart foreign education to Punjabi youth. She said that ties between India and Canada are like family. She appreciated the infrastructure provided by CIIS. Mrs Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, Col K. S. Mann, Director, CIIS, Robert Million, Dean, TRU, Mr S. K. Salwan, Vice-Chancellor, PTU, Mr J. B. Goyal, Director, Technical Education and Col Sandhu of CIIS also addressed the gathering.


Electricity bills: farmers block traffic
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 21
Protesting against the non-fulfilment of their demands, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta), the Kisan Sangharsh Committee and the Kisan Sabha, Punjab, blocked traffic on the Bathinda-Barnala road and the Bathinda-Mansa road for about a couple of hours here today.

Addressing the protesters, senior vice-president of the BKU Jhanda Singh Jethuke and district chief Shangara Singh Mann alleged the state government was yet to fulfil its poll promise of power bill waiver on motors being used for agricultural purpose.

The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Chairman was on the other hand threatening to snap power connections of the farmers for not paying their bills, they added. The union leaders said the promise of Rs 30 bonus on paddy was also hanging fire. They demanded that their power bill be waived off and bonus of paddy be given immediately.

They also urged the government to replace all defunct transformers in Amritsar district. They also sought immediate solution to canal water crisis. They warned if their demands were not conceded to within seven days, they would launch an indefinite stir from February 28.

SANGRUR: Farmers under the leadership of Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, state president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan), today blocked traffic for two hours from 1 pm to 3 pm at Dirba village and Lehragaga village in the district. To compel the government to write off pending bills of farmers’ tubewell motors and change the damaged/burnt electricity transformers in the Amritsar area.

At the Lehragaga traffic block, Mr Ugrahan asked the government to write off pending electricity bills of tubewells motors of farmers as it had already announced free power supply to the tubewells in the state.

Mr Ugrahan also asked the state government to change the burnt/damaged power transformers in Amritsar areas, as farmers were facing inconvenience in getting power supply for their tubewells. He also announced if the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities failed in changing the transformers by February 27, the BKU (Ugrahan) would begin an indefinite dharna from February 28 in front of the office of the PSEB’s Chief Engineer at Amritsar.

At Lehragaga Mr Balbir Singh Jhaloor, Lehragaga block president of the BKU (Ugrahan); Mr Amrik Singh Dhindsa and Mr Janak Singh Bhutal Kalan, district vice-president and general secretary respectively of the union; and Mr Bawa Singh Bhai Ke Pishore, a farmer leader addressed the protesters.

The farmers who blocked the traffic at Dirba village were addressed by Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Mr Nath Singh Ubhian, district vice-president of the union; Mr Dilbag Singh Harigarh and Mr Jaswant Singh Tolawal, president and general secretary respectively of the Dirba block of the union; and Mr Jasbir Singh Maidewal, treasurer of the Dirba block of the union.

The speakers warned the government not to disconnect power to tubewells of those farmers who had not deposited power bills in the wake of agitation by the union to get the power bills of the tubewell motors written off. They said the union would intensify the agitation if the state government initiated any action against the farmers for not depositing power bills.


BSP rules out joining third front in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 21
The Bahujan Samaj Party today ruled out joining the third front in Punjab. The state president, Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, claimed that the party was itself emerging as “third force” in the state. He ridiculed the idea of the third front claiming that those floating the idea had nothing at stake. The party also demanded registration of criminal case against Uttar Pradesh Minister Yaqub Qureshi for issuing a death fatwa against the Danish cartoonist who drew the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.

Mr Karimpuri, along with Mr Narinder Kashyap, national general secretary of the party, who is also in charge of Punjab, said that the BSP had emerged as a strong force to reckon with. He pointed out that each party in the state, like the Congress, the Akalis and the BJP were organising special Dalit rallies only to win them over. “And interestingly everybody there (in these rallies) talks about the shagun scheme for Dalit girls”, Mr Karimpuri said, while asserting, “the Dalits are no longer interested in shagun but we want power to ourselves”.

He alleged that successive governments in Punjab, whether the Congress or the Akalis, had only exploited the Dalits and had done practically nothing for them. He said, the atrocities on the Dalits had increased and everyday there were reports of crime against the Dalits. He claimed only the BSP was the true representative of the Dalits in the state and the country.

Mr Narinder Kashyap demanded that Yaqub Qureshi must be sacked and criminal proceedings initiated against him for his fatwa against the Danish cartoonist. Mr Kashyap while condemning the cartoons of the Prophet said it not mean people should take law into their own hands. Moreover, Mr Kashyap added, “Qureshi is a minister and the way he issued a fatwa to kill the cartoonist is simply a criminal act for which he should be brought to the book”.

Interestingly Qureshi started his political career with the BSP and had been elected to the Assembly for the first time on the BSP ticket. Later, he left Mayawati and joined her arch rival Mulayam Singh Yadav. 


BSP: Dalits for place in power politics, not sops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
Reacting sharply to what it described as desperate attempts being made by the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal to woo Dalit voters in Punjab, the Bahujan Samaj Party said on Sunday that “Dalits do not need small mercies from these parties but want to be in power in the state”.

Speaking to The Tribune, Mr Paramjit Singh Kainth, secretary of the Punjab unit of the BSP, said both the present Congress government and the previous SAD-BJP government had played political frauds on Dalits. For the past 40 years, these parties had been using Dalits as their votebanks without improving their lot and giving them a significant place in power politics. Dalit leaders had always been kept on the political margin by these parties.

Mr Paramjit Singh said that neither the previous SAD-BJP government nor the present Congress government had implemented the Mandal Commission report in the state. The present government dilly-dallied on implementing the 85th Amendment in the state. When the government realised in its last year of office that failure to implement the Amendment would harm it in the elections, it half-heartedly implemented it, he added.

The BSP leader said the Punjab Government should explain why it did not clear the backlog of vacancies meant for the Scheduled Castes. Hundreds of posts reserved for Scheduled Castes had been frozen in the past four years, he added.

He urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Opposition leader, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to publish a White Paper on what they and their governments had done for the welfare of Dalits in the past years.


Balhara village panchayat join Cong
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 21
‘‘Akalis have always misled the people by claiming to be champions of the cause of Sikhs and farmers, where as in reality they have always worked against Sikhs and farmers. The boycott of Palki Sahib Nagar Kirtan to Pakistan and their failure of smooth procurement of farmers’ produce have exposed them. It is only Capt. Amarinder Singh, who has taken a bold stand on water issues, ensured smooth procurement, got Punjabi youths released from Pakistani jails, raised the issue to increase MSP of wheat and initiated various development and people oriented schemes’’, this was stated by Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, while addressing a massive rural gathering at Balhara village today. On this occasion the entire village panchayat joined the Congress.

Dr Lal said as soon as the financial position of the state improved, the government initiated various development programmes and people oriented schemes. He said the people have started acknowledging the pace of development and the difference between the SAD(B) and Congress rule.


Badal objects to obituary reference to Bhagat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
An echo of the 1984 anti-Sikh violence was heard in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha here today as the Shiromani Akali Dal objected to the inclusion of former Union Minister H.K.L. Bhagat’s name in the obituary references.

Referring to Bhagat, the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said “ he is responsible for the killing of several innocent people during the anti-Sikh riots in 1984”. First, Mr Badal had refrained from naming Bhagat as he read out the references on behalf of his party. He followed this up with an objection to adding Bhagat’s name to the references.

Bhagat’s name was part of a list of references made to K.R. Narayanan, a former President, P.M. Sayeed, former Union Power Minister, Amrita Pritam, writer, and two freedom fighters, Dalip Singh Khosa and Iqbal Singh. The Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, had read out the references on behalf of the government.

Even as the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, observed that it was unfortunate that a member (Mr Badal) was politicising the issue of obituary references, he turned down a request from Mrs Bhattal to expunge the remarks made by Mr Badal in reference to Bhagat.

Mr Badal asserted that whatever he had said was for the record of the Assembly. “I would have spoken much more on Bhagat. Tomorrow, they (Treasury Benches) will start paying tributes to General Dyer,” said the Akali leader. Mr Badal said once a person was dead such things should normally not be raked up. However, this was a matter of record.

Later, Mr Badal added an obituary reference to the Jaito martyrs. Mr Tikshan Sud of the BJP added a reference to farmers who had committing suicide. Mrs Bhattal added the names of P.C. Sen, former Chief Secretary of Punjab, and Indu Sen, mother of Union Minister and Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab, Mrs Ambika Soni.

Mr Sucha Singh Chhotepur, Independent MLA from Dhariwal, Gurdaspur, refrained from naming Bhagat during the obituary references.


Dalit branded
Tribune News Service

Undertrial Narinder Singh who was allegedly branded by officials of the Nabha jail.
Undertrial Narinder Singh who was allegedly branded by officials of the Nabha jail.
— A Tribune photograph

Ropar, February 21
In violation of human rights the word “choora” (lower caste) was inscribed on the back of a 20-year-old Dalit undertrial, Narinder Singh, with hot metal and he was paraded naked allegedly by officials of the Nabha jail. The matter came to light today when Narinder, a resident of Balakalna village, near Morinda town, was produced before the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr S.K Goel, by his counsel this afternoon.

The undertrial showed the word inscribed on his back to the Judge and submitted a complaint against the jail officials.

Taking cognizance of his plea, the Judge, Mr Goel, ordered the transfer of Narinder from the Nabha jail to the Patiala jail and issued a notice to the Nabha Jail Superintendent to file reply on February 24. Narinder has been facing trial in a murder case.

Narrating his tale of woe, Narinder said the incident took place on February 20 when he was performing religious prayer in his cell in the morning. The lambardar of his cell got annoyed over his prayer and he rebuked him in an abusive language. The lambardar assaulted him and other inmates of the cell.

The undertrial alleged that the lambardar and other jail officials produced him before the Assistant Superintendent of the jail who told him to remove his clothes. He was brutally beaten by the jail staff with sticks, he added.

“The Assistant Superintendent of the jail was in an inebriated condition when he beat him up and inscribed “choora” on his back with the hot metal. Thereafter he was paraded naked in his cell,” he alleged.

Mr Robby Singh Rana, counsel for the undertrial, said Narinder had been lodged in the jail for the past two years in connection with the 
murder case. 


25 fined for not notifying vacancies
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 21
On a complaint from the District Employment Officer, Mr Ramesh Mahajan, the Gurdaspur CJM, Mr B.R. Garg, has imposed a fine of Rs 200 each on 25 officials of various government and private concerns in the district for not notifying vacancies.

The officials on which fine has been imposed include Mr Davinder Kumar Garrison (Engineer, West, Pathankot), Mr Vinod Gopalan (Joint director, DSC group station, 21 sub area), Mr R.L. Chhanalia, Joint Commissioner, Income Tax, Pathankot), Mr B.K. Swaraj (Manager, Allahabad Bank Pathankot), Mr Dinesh Kumar (State Bank of India, Mann Market, Pathankot), Mr Pravin Kumar (Manager, State Bank of India, Bhungal), Mr Baldev Raj (Manager, Punjab National Bank, Narot), Mr Bishan Dass (Manager, PNB, Model Town, Pathankot), Mr A.K. Joshi (Manager, PNB, railway road, Pathankot), Mr Raj Kumar (Manager, PNB, Bamial), Mr Om Prakash (Manager, Punjab and Sind Bank, Kathlore), Ms Veena Mahajan (Manager, State Bank of Patiala, Thara Uparla village), Mr Vijay Sawaria (Manager, State Bank of Patiala, Paniar), Mr Anil Malik (Manager, SBI, Dhariwal), Mr S.R. Verma (Manager, SBI, Dinanagar), Mr Manjit Singh (Principal, Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Pathankot), Mr Anchal Dass (Principal, Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Malikpur), Ms Veena Oberoi (Principal, Senior Secondary School, Badhani), Mr Kalu Ram (Headmaster, Government Senior Secondary School, Darang Khad), Mr Jatinder Singh (SE generation, Malikpur), Mr Balbir Minhas (secretary, Market Committee Pathankot), Mr Parash Ram (Manager, Pathankot Primary Cooperative Agriculture Bank Ltd.), Ms Babita Lahri (Principal, Akal Academy, Bharial Lahri, Pathankot) and Mr S.P. Bhardwaj (Principal, Sai Polytechnic, Badhani).


Review meeting on bird flu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The Punjab Animal Husbandry Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, today said that poultry farmers had suffered a huge financial loss in the past three days because of reports of bird flu from Maharashtra.

Speaking to mediapersons, he said the state government had asked the Uttaranchal and Jammu and Kashmir Governments to allow the entry of chickens from Punjab but both states had banned the entry.

The government, however, has not made it clear whether it would compensate poultry farmers.

Meanwhile, the Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, review meeting presiding over a today directed the state administration to make efforts to ensure that bird flu did not spread in the state.

Migratory birds, especially at Ropar, Harike Pattan, Kanjli and other water bodies of the state, should be monitored closely, he said.


Breakaway group of Taksal to boycott sammelan
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 21
The breakaway group of Damdami Taksal (Jatha Bhindran Mehta), led by Baba Ram Singh, announced to boycott the forthcoming Virsa Sambhal Sikh Sammelan to be organised by Damdami Taksal chief Baba Harnam Singh.

Addressing mediapersons here today, Giani Ram Singh objected to inviting heads of the Congress, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, by Baba Harnam Singh for the sammelan.

The chief of the breakaway group alleged the sammelan was being organised at the behest of the Congress and heirs of Damdami Taksal had forgotten the sacrifices of its stalwarts.

Baba Ram Singh said if the organisers were really concerned about the rich heritage of Sikhs, they must break all ties with the Congress.

Baba Harnam Singh quashed the allegations and said Baba Ram Singh was making baseless allegations. He denied any connection with the Congress and said the sammelan was being organised to address problems of growing drug addiction and apostasy.

He lashed out at the chief of the breakaway group and asked him to substantiate the allegations of financial assistance by the Congress for the sammelan.


Free X-ray facility for suspected TB patients
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 21
The Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) has directed all Civil Surgeons of the state to conduct x-ray of chest, free of cost of all those suspected TB patients whose all three samples of sputum are found negative for TB germs i.e. Acid Fast Bacilli (AFB).

Before this order if a doctor, after finding all three samples of sputum negative for AFB in a suspected TB patient, felt the need of a chest x-ray of the patient had for the x-ray. Earlier only in the case of a suspected TB patient, whose one sputum sample, out of three, was found positive for AFB, x-ray of chest was done free of cost in government hospitals. 


Virk is NRI Sabha chief

Ropar, February 21
Mr Amarjit Singh Virk was elected president of the NRI Sabha, Ropar, unanimously at an election held here today, informed the Deputy Commissioner–cum-Chairman of the NRI Sabha, Mr H.I.S Garewal.

The election was held under the supervision of the ADC (General), Ms Raghbir Kaur, nominated by the government to conduct the elections. TNS


High Court
Notice issued in Malerkotla MC chief’s case
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 21
The Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday issued notice of motion for March 2 on a petition filed by the former president of the Municipal Council, Malerkotla, challenging the acceptance of her “resignation” by the government.

In her petition, Ms Bholi Ismail, who was recently said to have been removed from her post following the resignation submitted by her, has alleged that she had never resigned and the entire thing was stage-managed by Malerkotla MLA Razia Sultana and her husband, Mohammed Mustafa, who is an IG in the Punjab Police.

The petitioner has also claimed that sometime back, she was called to Razia Sultana’s house and forced to sign some blank papers. Later, those very papers were allegedly given the shape of her resignation letter.

The so-called resignation was put up before the members of the MC, Malerkotla, on March 19, 2005, and was accepted. However, the petitioner has claimed that only 12 out of the total 18 members were present in the meeting, three less than the quorum. Therefore, any decision taken at the meeting was illegal.

She has also challenged the subsequent notification issued on January 3 by the Punjab Government by which her resignation was accepted.

The Division Bench comprising Mr Justice H. S. Bedi and Mr Justice A. K. Mittal, while issuing the notice, also directed the respondents not to hold counting of votes polled on January 6 for electing a new president.


BJP demands compensation for Kandi farmers
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 21
The BJP has demanded compensation for the farmers of the Kandi area. In a press conference held here today, a former Higher Education Minister, Mr Mohan Lal and a former Minister, Mr Satpal Saini alleged that the farmers of the Kandi areas of the state have suffered maximum losses due to a dry spell in February.

While the farmers in plains have tubewells to cultivate their land the farmers of the Kandi areas still depend on rain. The farmers of the hilly areas have small land holdings and are comparatively poorer. This year due to the dry spell the farmers of the Kandi area are likely to suffer 50 per cent loss of crop.

The government should order special surveys to asses to damage to crops if the Kandi area farmers. If the compensation was not paid to the farmers of the Kandi areas they would suffer economically.

Mr Mohan Lal further said that agriculture was the primary vocation of the farmers of the Kandi area. The farmers of the area have limited land for agriculture as most of their land has been protected under Section 4 and 5 of the Forest Act.

While forest officials do not allow the farmers to collect even the yield of the forest, they themselves allow felling of trees. The farmers are paid meager amounts for the trees on their land. In many cases the middlemen do not the pay the farmers even that meager amount for their trees.

Keeping in consideration their problems the government should give special compensation to the farmers of Kandi area. If the government failed to give compensation to the farmers the BJP would organise a dharna at Dhar on March 7.

Mr Saini also alleged that the besides the farmers, the general public of the Dhar area was facing acute drinking water shortage. While government has increased the rent for one stand post of water tap from Rs 10 to Rs 80 per month the people were getting drinking water for just one hour in a day.


Names sent for 2 key UT posts
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The Punjab Government today finally ended long-running controversies and speculation around two key posts for its officers. The government today forwarded the names for selection as Senior Regional Manager (SRM), Punjab, in the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and also for the post of SSP Chandigarh. The officers will be taken on deputation for both posts.

The post of the SRM, Punjab, in the FCI has been held by a Haryana cadre IAS officer T.C. Gupta for the past eight months. The Punjab Government had brought to the notice of the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, that the post of SRM, Punjab, should be reverted to the Punjab cadre. However, technically, Mr Siva Prasad, a Punjab cadre officer was on deputation to the FCI, hence another Punjab cadre officer could not be sent on deputation.

A few weeks ago, the Central Bureau of Investigation, had booked Mr Siva Prasad in a case of corruption and Punjab once again made a plea for reverting the post to it. Already a controversy is on over the slow release of wheat in the open market, which led to rise in prices of "atta". Mr Gupta had maintained that he had written a letter to the Punjab Government. However, the latter never responded, failing which the FCI was forced to release wheat directly to roller flour mills.

Sources said the Punjab Government has forwarded the names of three officers to the Union Agriculture Ministry. The panel has the names of Mr Anurag Verma, DC, Ludhiana, Mr R.K. Verma, Director, Technical Education, and Mr Sarbjit Singh, Director, Rural Development.

Similarly for the post of SSP, Chandigarh, three names have been forwarded. These are of Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, Jalandhar, Mr A.S. Rai, SSP, Patiala and Mr S. Srivastava, SSP, Ferozepore.

A list of these names have also been forwarded to the Chandigarh Administration, where the Administrator, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), would mark out his preferences and forward the same to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for appointment. The appointment is to be ratified by the Prime Minister.

It may be recalled that the MHA had written a letter to the Punjab Government in January saying that a UT cadre IPS officer will be appointed when the tenure of Mr Gaurav Yadav, a Punjab cadre IPS officer, ends in March this year.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh then took up the matter with the Union Home Minister Mr Shivraj Patil, saying a move to appoint a UT cadre officer as SSP, Chandigarh, would disturb the pre-decided ratio of officers of Punjab to be posted at Chandigarh. 


Woman conspires with paramour, kills husband
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 21
Razia and her paramour Avtar Singh have been arrested for killing Bhajan Singh at 56GB village, Sriganganagar, the police said today.

The police said Avtar Singh, a mechanic, had been visiting Bhajan Singh, a three-wheeler driver, and developed illicit relations with Razia, wife of the latter. As Bhajan Singh objected to his visits, Avtar Singh and Razia reportedly conspired to eliminate him. On Saturday Avtar and his friend took Bhajan to a place promising him a job. Razia also accompanied them.

The conspirators served liquor to Bhajan and later strangled him with a handkerchief. Body was dumped in a field near 65GB village, the police said.

Ms Mohinder Kaur, mother of the victim, complained to Sriganganagar police station, neighbouring this sub division on finding the body of the son. She suspected involvement of her daughter-in-law in the murder during preliminary investigation.

The police recovered the handkerchief and the footwear used by the victim from the fields. The third person involved in the case has fled, the police said.

A post-mortem examination indicated death due to strangulation, sources added. The police claimed that Razia and Avtar had confessed to their crime.


Fake lime-making unit unearthed
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 21
The police here unearthed a fake lime making unit in Pathankot. Sources here said that the owners of the fake unit were importing Mahalaxmi brand-lime stone from Rajasthan.

Here they mixed the limestone with marble powder and sold the adulterated product under a fake brand name of Laxmi lime stones. SHO division number 2 Sulakhan Singh said they got complaint from users of Laxmi lime stones that the product was not giving good finish after white wash. Following complaint they kept a watch over the unit.

The unit owners were selling 200 bags of fake lime stone every day. They had installed repacking machines. The original lime stone mixed with marble powder collected from marble shops was repacked in new bags under the brand name of Laxmi lime stone from Rajasthan.

After confirmation they came to know that no such brand existed in Rajasthan. They raided the premises and sealed the fake product and the machinery used for the purpose. Vijay Kamar owner of the unit has been booked under Section 420 of the IPC for running the unit, he said.

Earlier the Health and District Food and Civil Supplies Authorities had confiscated fake ghee and salt being sold in the Pathankot area.


Six hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 21
All six persons, travelling by an Esteem car, were injured when it rammed in to a tractor-trailer carrying wheat husk at 8 pm on Monday.

After the accident near Alamgarh village on the national highway 15 it was noticed that none of the six tractor-trailers, moving on the road, had reflectors on the back side.

Those injured were identified as Ms Narinder Kaur, and her husband Gurmeet Singh, Ms Rajinder Kaur wife of Mr Tejinder Singh, Jaswinder Singh and his brother Rajvir Singh residents of Danewala village near Malout and Ms Bhupinder Kaur wife of Mr Gurmeet Singh a resident of Sriganganagar. They were returning to Danewala after attending a marriage at Sriganganagar. All have been admitted at the Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here. The police has registered a complaint.


Gang of fake DTOs busted
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 21
Pathankot Sadar police yesterday claimed to have busted a gang of fake DTOs who had been extorting money from the truck drivers and other vehicles plying between Gurdaspur and Pathankot and arrested two of the gang members. Two others are absconding. Gurdaspur SSP Pramod said while two of the gang members of the fake DTOs — Sarabjit Singh, a resident of Channi Tola village, and Daljit Singh, a resident of Jangal village in the district — had been arrested, two of their accomplices Charanjit Singh and Baljit Singh were absconding.

A party led by SHO Mukhwinder Singh arrested the two persons while two of their companions managed to escape.


Woman killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 21
A woman was killed and seven persons were injured in separate accidents during the past 24 hours.

According to the police, two women, who were trying to cross the road near Mundi Kharar, were hit by a mini truck today. While one of them died on the spot, the other sustained injuries. She was taken to the Kharar Civil Hospital from where she was referred to the PGI, Chandigarh.

In another incident, a couple was injured when the car in which they were travelling hit a tree near Khanpur early this morning.

They were taken to the local Civil Hospital. They are residents of Mohali.

Four members of a family sustained injuries in another accident when the scooter they were riding hit a stationary truck near Bhukri village. They were taken to the local Civil Hospital.


Tribune Impact
School teacher transferred
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 21
Taking a serious note of the news item published in The Tribune regarding the alleged sexual harassment with girl students and women staff by a school teacher of Government Senior Secondary School, Wazidpur Nogawan, the DPI has ordered the transfer of the said teacher from Fatehgarh Sahib to Gurdaspur district.

He has directed the DEO(S) to immediately relieve him from the school and directed the teacher to join duty in Gurdaspur district by tomorrow. According to sources Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar had a telephonic conversation with DEO(S) and took a serious note of the activities of the teacher. He directed the authorities to suspend him immediately.

When contacted, Mr R.D. Goyal, DEO(S), confirmed that the teacher had been transferred to Gurdaspur district and had been relieved from the school today.

Students, staff, village panchayat, PTA and PASWAC body of Government Senior Secondary School, Wazidpur Nogawan, had complained against the school teacher, alleging that he had been indulging in immoral activities with girl students and women staff.

The Deputy Commissioner had written a letter to Principal Secretary Education Tejinder Kaur to take action against the teacher on the basis of inquiry report of the DEO, who had confirmed his indulgence in immoral activities with staff and students.

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