P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM asks Chief Secy to look into MLAs’ charges
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 25
Taking view of the serious charges levelled against the bureaucracy for its callous and non-responsive attitude by MLAs of the ruling party as well as the Opposition, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has asked the Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, to look into the matter. The Chief Secretary, in turn, has sought a copy of the proceedings of the Vidhan Sabha. Capt Amarinder Singh said this today while addressing mediapersons after the 57th annual day celebrations of Yadavindra Public School here.

The Chief Minister said dissatisfaction was brewing among the MLAs for erratic behaviour of the bureaucracy towards them. “To stem this impression, the Chief Secretary has assured me to review the accusations of the MLAs in a wider perspective and take corrective measures to ensure responsive and accountable administration.”

Rejecting the offer of help by the Akali Dal general secretary, Mr Sukhbir Badal, for taking up the issue of increase in MSP of wheat with the Centre, he said his government was capable of doing it alone and said he had impressed upon the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, to announce a minimum hike of Rs 50 per quintal, raising it from Rs 650 per quintal to Rs 700 per quintal.

Referring to the threats to end their lives by four widows of 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the Chief Minister said such threats amounted to infringement of justice and no one would be allowed to take such a drastic step and would be dealt with strictly according to the law.

Replying to a question regarding a proposal to set up a nursing school at Patiala, he revealed that the government was negotiating with Fortis for a joint venture. Earlier, addressing the students at the annual function, Capt Amarinder Singh exhorted them to imbibe qualities of self-discipline, dedication and sincerity to enable them to become ideal citizens.


Common man given relief in Budget: CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 25
Hailing the Railway Budget, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today that the common man had been provided appreciable relief by the Railway Minister, Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav.

He said that rail traffic on the Chandigarh-Morinda-Ludhiana section would begin soon.

He hoped the Railway Ministry would clear the Chandigarh-Rajpura railway link via Banur.

He welcomed the starting of the new rail service from Amritsar to Jaipur besides a daily shuttle train between Jalandhar and Nakodar.


Teachers on contract to be regularised soon, says Johar
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, February 25
As many as 12,000 teachers will be recruited in the state and the services of those who are on contract will be regularised the next month.

This was stated by Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar while addressing a gathering at Government High School, Malewal, about 30 km from here, today. The minister laid the foundation stones for the “Mela Ram Bhumbla Stadium” and “Mela Ram Bhumbla Auditorium” at the school.

Congress leader Chaudhary Mela Ram Bhumbla and his family have donated Rs12 lakh for both buildings.

The minister announced the renaming of the school as Chaudhary Mela Ram Bhumbla Government Senior Secondary School and its upgradation up to the senior secondary level. He inaugurated the new block of the school, which had been constructed at a cost of Rs10 lakh.

Mr Johar said computer education in 5,278 government schools would start from July this year with a view to revamping the education system in the state.

He distributed cheques worth Rs24.70 lakh among the authorities of 27 schools under the Sarv Shikhiya Abhiyan.

He announced construction of a link road leading to a religious place, a grant of Rs2 lakh for the charitable hospital being by the Maharaj Bhuriwale Garib Dassi Trust, Rs2 lakh for the Senior Secondary and Primary Schools and Rs1.26 lakh for the construction of streets and drains in the village.


Controversy over allowing company to sell surplus land
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 25
A controversy has erupted within the Punjab Government over the issue of allowing Godrej and Boyce Manufacturing Company Limited to sell its surplus land in Mohali.

The company owes about Rs 20 crore to the Punjab Government and allotment of its land was cancelled in 2002. While other similarly placed defaulters were made to surrender their surplus land back to the government in lieu of their dues, the Empowered Committee of the Chief Minister scheduled to meet on February 28, would consider permitting Godrej to sell this land to pay its dues. A request to this affect was made by the company recently.

Sources pointed out while strong objections have been raised by sections of the Department of Industries against this move which would be a conspicuous shift from the government's policy in such cases, pressure and influence of the proposed 'buyers' of the land on senior bureaucrats of the state is said to be behind the consideration.

The Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) had allotted over 75 acres to the company in Industrial Area, Phase VIII A, in 1995. Godrej was asked to pay around Rs 20 crore to the PSIEC on account of land enhancement cost.

However, when the dues were not paid, the PSIEC cancelled the land's allotment and demanded dispossession of the industry from it. Responding to the move now, the allotting agency had made its displeasure very clear, going to the extent of putting on record that Godrej is no more the owner of the land but only their lessees and cannot sell the land.

The PSIEC communication also states that if such a sale is allowed, other companies that surrendered their land in lieu of their dues could demand their land back wanting to sell it on their own to clear their dues.

Sources added that other senior officers in the Department of Industries are also sharply divided over the issue, with these divisions reflected on the strong notings on the file.

The Director, Industries, wrote that such a move is "not in accordance with any policy and will have far reaching implications viz-a-viz similarly placed allottees."

True enough, all other industries in the area that owed the government large sums of money on account of land cost enhancement had surrendered portions of their land to the PSIEC which have been put to better use by the department. Ranbaxy surrendered over 40 acres of its surplus land in lieu of their dues, Brahma Styres gave back 30 acres to the PSIEC and ICI Paints gave back another 15 acres.

"At that time the market was very weak. The cost of land surrendered was enough to account for the dues. Now land has become very expensive and no one wants to part with it.

We would be allowing Godrej to sell the land only after they have cleared all our dues. In case they sell the land for an industrial park, the government would earn revenue from the conversion and transfer fee etc," said the Principal Secretary, Industries, Mr S.C. Agarwal.

Sources, however, pointed out that the Industries Department was facing an acute shortage of land in Mohali to meet the increasing demand of the IT companies.

The government should get its land back from defaulters and attract more IT industries, felt sources. Godrej representatives could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.


Licences for denatured spirit: assn seeks probe
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 25
Urging the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to order a high-level probe into the issuance of wholesale licences for the sale of denatured spirit in the state, the Denatured Spirit Association, Punjab, said today that certain close relations of officials of the Excise and Taxation Department, which was the licensing authority, had been allotted licences.

A spokesman of the association told The Tribune that no criterion was adopted while issuing the licences. No public announcement was made seeking applications from aspirants. Resorting a pick-and-choose policy, the department allotted wholesale licences to some influential persons.

The association said 30 wholesale licences, which were technically called L-17A, were issued by the department during the past one year. Most of the licences had been issued to either close relations of officers of the department or influential persons. From the wholesaler, the department charged Rs 10,000 as licence fee. There were about 900 retail licensees who had to pay Rs 5,000 are licence fee.

By making a small investment, a wholesaler, who got a licence for a big district in Punjab, could earn up to Rs 1.60 lakh per month, which meant Rs 19.20 lakh per year, by just making an investment of Rs 1.5 lakh in a year. “ It would have been better if the government had invited applications from unemployed youth and given licences to them. The government could have at least ensured Rs 50,000 per year income to 500 youth by doing so”, said a senior functionary of the association.

The association said that before April 1 last year, the rate of denatured spirit, which was used for furniture polish, lamination, medical purposes by doctors and in sciences laboratories, was Rs 18 per litre. Every retailer had a quota of 400 litres which was lifted direct from distilleries.

However, on April 1 last year, the government changed the policy. It appointed wholesale licensees, and retailers could only procure denatured spirit from them. There were reports that certain wholesalers had themselves started doing the job of retailers. A wholesaler got spirit from a distillery at the rate of Rs 26.30 per litre and sold it to a retailer licensee for Rs 34 per litre. Some of the licensees had a monthly quota of 20,000 litres, said the Association.

What has upset the association is that after the issuance of wholesale licences, a system followed by no other state in the country, the quality of denatured spirit given to retailers has gone down. The association said the government should revert to the old policy allowing retailers to lift the supply of spirit direct from distilleries.


At last, some good news on sex ratio
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 25
While skewed sex ratio has assumed alarming proportions in Punjab, strict implementation of the PNDT Act, by probably the only PNDT Cell in the state, and awareness among people is bearing fruit in the district.

The birth rate of girls has shot up by about 9 per cent in the district since 2002.

According to sources, the number of girls in Punjab per 1,000 boys, in the age group of 0-6, was 793 in 2001, which increased to 798 in 2004 and finally crossed the 800 mark last year. This number stood at 861 in 1991.

In Bathinda, as per the data collected by the PNDT Cell, the birth rate of girls per 1,000 boys was 742 in 2002, 759 in 2003, and 792 in 2004, before equalising with the state's ratio and reaching the figure of 808 last year.

The rural-urban divide is clearly reflected in the figures which suggests that female foeticide is rampant in villages. In urban areas of the district, this figure was 788 in 2003, 871 in 2004 and 884 in 2005.

In rural areas, the scenario was dismal in 2003 with a sorry figure of 736. The number increased to 767 in 2004 and to 814 in 2005, indicating a positive change in people's mindset.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari, who is also the Chairman of the PNDT Cell, said 14 criminal cases were registered against those involved in female foeticide and all ultrasound centres in Maur Mandi had been sealed.

He said ‘jago’ was also being taken out in villages to spread awareness on the issue.

The Project Officer of the PNDT Cell, Mr Sadhuram Kushla, said their proactive approach had led to encouraging results and added that 10 cases of female foeticide were in courts in which 37 persons were involved.

Apart from it, the Civil Surgeon has also filed 9 such cases in courts. He said they were also working on a telefilm titled ‘Kanjka da katal’, which would be screened in villages to sensitise people. The film would be released shortly.

He said the cell had also announced a reward of Rs 5,000 to any individual giving a tip-off on female foeticide and it had evoked a good response.


MC uses canal for discharging untreated sewage
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Sujanpur (Gurdaspur), February 25
The Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) which passes through Sujanpur town emits strong stench, causing nuisance to those residing near its banks and the passersby. Stench emits from the irrigation canal because untreated sewage of Sujanpur is discharged into the canal in violation of Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) and the Irrigation Department’s guidelines.

Sources here said earlier the sewage was washed by the canal’s water. Now due to lean irrigation period water in the canal has been stopped. Due to it the sewage gets deposited in the canal spreading strong stench in the area.

Polythene and waste of Sujanpur has choked the canal. The Municipal Council, Sujanpur, had developed a park on the banks of the canal. At present nobody can afford to sit in the park site as the canal has been converted into a drain.

Sources in the department of irrigation said on the condition of anonymity that they had written several times to the Municipal Council Sujanpur to stop discharge of waste in the canal. Every time they had to yield due to political pressure.

Even now a minister was pressurising them to release water in the canal so that sewage gets washed away. However, higher authorities have not allowed them to do due to shortage of water and repair works in progress.

The Municipal Engineer of the Sujanpur Council said the sewage was being released in the UBDC since long. However, the minister has now taken the matter on priority. He has asked to work out the plan for a sewerage treatment plant for the council to stop releasing water in the canal. The proposal has been sent to the sewerage board but the shortage of funds was the major hurdle in the project.

Sources here said that besides the Sujanpur many other municipal councils also release their untreated sewage into the UBDC canal in violation of the PPCB guidelines. Pathankot and Dhariwal are the other major Municipal Councils that release untreated sewage into the UBDC.

The UBDC network was being used for irrigation network in Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts. At many places people bathe and use the water of the canal for drinking purposes. At most of the places the canal water was used by the farmers for cattle.

However, the kind of polluting material that was being released illegally in canal water was highly toxic for human and animal consumption. Besides the polythene being released in the canal was also choking the drains at many places.


BJP rues rising crime graph in Abohar
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 25
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has expressed concern over the rising drug and crime scene in the city.

Reacting to the claims made by the Madhya Pradesh Governor, Dr Balram Jakhar, Mr Sandeep Rinwa, district general secretary of the BJP, said today that Abohar was now leading in the smack trade and other crimes.

He further said the law and order situation in the city had completely collapsed and cited a recent incident when some Congress workers had gunned down Baljit Singh, sarpanch of their own party.

Barely two hours after the incident, an elder brother of the alleged assailant was killed inside a operation theatre at the Civil Hospital, in the presence of the local police, but no police officer was sacked, Mr Rinwa alleged.

Mr Rinwa, son of Prof B. L. Rinwa, a member of the National Disciplinary Committee of the party, said illegal ‘dara satta’ shops were functioning in many localities here.

The newspapers had carried out illustrated reports but the police never initiated any action to check the menace which had ruined people living below poverty line, he said.

Mr Rinwa said during the past four years of the Congress rule in the state, at least six petrol stations had been looted here.

The president of the Petroleum Dealers Association was shot at and a salesman had been killed by the looters, he said.

Reflecting on the growing crime in the state, he said more than a hundred cases of theft and loot had been reported and many incidents of snatching in local markets had also come to the light.

Some schoolgoing boys were abducted and killed but the police had not been able to find any clue. People rightly felt that jungle law prevailed in the region. The incompetent officers enjoyed political patronage, he rued.

Mr Rinwa lambasted the ruling party for launching a false publicity campaign on urban development with an eye on the next Vidhan Sabha elections, scheduled after a year, and asserted that it would be difficult to fool the politically aware residents.

Public was crying for electricity even though the summer was yet to arrive. Who would believe that 24-hour supply would be ensured, he asked.


All set for Virsa Sambhal Sammelan
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 25
The arrangements for the Virsa Sambhal World Sikh Sammelan to be held tomorrow at new grain market, Sirhind, have been completed.

More than 5 lakh persons are expected to participate in the sammelan for which a huge pandal has been erected.

Giani Harnam Singh Khalsa, Chief of Damdami Taksal, jatha Bhindran Mehta, said the function was being arranged under the patronage of the Damdami Taksal and not on the behest of any political organisation, government or any individual.

He said the Damdami Taksal had sent invitations to more than 3,500 organisations all over the world, including the SGPC, the SAD(A), the Dal Khalsa, the Akhand Kirtani Jatha and the jathedars of all takhts.

Meanwhile, some panthic organisation and the SAD (A) have decided not to attend the sammelan. They have urged the organisers to clarify their stand on certain issues and to clarify whether only religious proceedings would be undertaken or political speeches would also be allowed.

Sources said the organisers did not respond to their queries, so these bodies decided to boycott the function.


Vedanti to stay away

Amritsar, February 25
Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Akal Takht, has decided to stay away from the Virsa Sambhal Sammelan (VSS) to be organised by the Sant Samaj, the Damdami Taksal and some other organisations at Sirhind tomorrow.

Vedanti said Akal Takht had serious differences with the Damdami Taksal, headed by Baba Harnam Singh Dhumma, and a section of Sant Samaj since they had refused to accept the Nanakshahi Calendar and Sikh Rehat Maryada approved by the Sikh clergy and the SGPC.

Meanwhile, former Jathedar Akal Takht Bhai Ranjit Singh has dissociated himself from the sammelan, which has come as a big jolt for the organisers.

The former Jathedar confirmed that he won’t attend the function due to certain reasons. — TNS


‘Jaago’ campaign draws drug addicts to de-addiction centre
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 25
Aiming to curb rising drug menace in rural areas of Punjab, the Red Cross Drug De-addiction Centre, along with United Welfare Society, has launched a special sensitisation drive - ‘Jaago’ (wake up) under which processions are taken out in villages to highlight the ill effects of drugs on human body.

The campaign has evoked a good response and also witnessed the participation of people from different walks of life, including panchayat leaders, NSS volunteers, teachers, religious leaders, social workers, rural youth clubs and mahila mandal workers. Interestingly, the organisers had also roped in some ex-addicts to strongly convey the message to their target group.

Under the campaign, first a village grappling with drug menace is identified. The organisers then hold dramas, skits, street plays, village-level meetings and lecture on de-addiction at its common places to motivate youths to visit the de-addiction centre of the Red Cross. Leaflets on the harmful effects of drugs on

health are disbursed among the participants.

Rural women also chip in with their contribution. They take out a procession on dusty lanes of villages carrying decorated metal pots and raising anti-drug slogans.

Ex-addicts involved in the campaign also share their experiences with the addicts, which makes the latter positive towards de-addiction.

Sources in the de-addiction campaign said the ‘Jaago’ drive was launched three months back and since then 100 addicts had approached them from the villages where drug awareness programmes were held. These included addicts of smack, alcohol, poppy husk, opium and other drugs, besides those having addiction of multiple drugs.

Processions were taken out in Harrangpura, Gobindpura, Jodhpur Romana, Goniana Mandi, Maiserkhana, Maur Charat Singh, Ghuman Kalan, Deon and Bir Behman villages.


INS Vikrant aircraft handler lives in misery
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 25
Serving for years with full dedication on India’s pride — the INS Vikrant — has hardly brought anything except misery to 72-year-old Sarup Singh, former Leading Aircraft Handler (LAH) with the Indian Navy. He is tired of running after politicians and bureaucrats to get his pension and other benefits.

Sarup served on the INS Vikrant for about a decade with hopes that his Navy career would fetch him rich dividends for his future and that he would be able to spend his old-age days with self-esteem and sans any problem.

But all of his hopes came crashing when he was discharged from the Navy in May, 1964, on medical grounds. But, at the same time he was handed over a discharge certificate, which said his character and behaviour was “very good”.

If this was not enough, what proved a bolt from the blue for Sarup, a resident of Khanwal village in Kapurthala district, was that he had not allegedly been given any pension or other service-related benefits by the Navy authorities.

He has been waiting for his pension and other benefits even after 40 years since he had been discharged from the service.

Though hopes continue to engulf Sarup and he has been thinking that pension and other benefits would be bestowed upon him by the naval authorities one day, emotionally he got battered only when his children allegedly failed to support him after the death of his wife.

“At the time of my discharge from the Navy, I was handed over a certificate about my good conduct and service, but, what should I do with it when I am not even able to get food for myself. Nobody has listened to my woes and hardly any of the authorities bothered to do something to provide me with the pension.

“I feel so ashamed as I have been begging for my rightful benefits, but, the authorities have been ignoring me. Where should I go to get my rights?” questioned Sarup.

Sarup said he had to even raise a loan of Rs2,000 against his old moped so that he could go to Delhi and meet Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee around 15-20 days ago. “Mr Chatterjee has promised that he would look into the matter. I was also advised in Delhi that I would have to hire a lawyer so as to fight a case against the Navy authorities. From where should I get the money for that when I am penniless?” rued Sarup.

“One of my sons and a daughter are settled in the UK, but, they have their own families to look after. I am all alone,” he said.


Residents burn copies of Punjabi daily
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 25
Hundreds of residents of Cheema village, birthplace of Baba Attar Singh, blocked traffic for about three hours on the Sunam-Mansa main road here today.

They were protesting against the publication of “objectionable comments” against Baba Attar Singh in a Punjabi daily (not Punjabi Tribune).

The protesters also burnt some copies of the newspaper and an effigy of the “erring” persons allegedly involved in the case.

The protesters reportedly lifted the road blockade when the Sunam SDM, Mr Ravinder Singh, reached there around 1 pm and pacified them.

The protesters submitted a memorandum to the SDM, demanding immediate action against the “erring" persons.

The SDM said the memorandum had been signed by the president of Sant Baba Attar Singh Sports Club, Cheema, and more than 30 other persons. He said he would forward the memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner for necessary action.


Two health centres in each district
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 25
In order to promote health facilities in rural areas, the government will set up two community health centres in each district of the state under the Rural Health Mission programme. A sum of Rs 20 lakh would be spent to setting up each unit.

This was stated by Mr R.C. Dogra, Health Minister, Punjab, after inaugurating a free eye camp organised at Gurdwara Sant Mandal Angitha Sahib, Phase VIII, here today. This was the 11th camp organised by the gurdwara.

The minister said infrastructure was being upgraded at government hospitals and more doctors were being recruited for providing satisfactory services as the government had given the green signal in this regard.

He said free eye camps would be organised at civil hospitals and the government would bear the entire expenditure so that free treatment could be provided to the needy.

Mr Dogra said telemedicine scheme was being run at Patiala, Ajnala and Dasuya. The services being provided under the scheme would be strengthened and the facility be extended to other towns in the state.

Talking about the local Civil Hospital, the minister said a demand for upgrading the hospital from 50 beds to 200 beds had been received and the government was considering the demand.

The minister announced Rs 1 lakh for medicines to the dispensary being run on the premises of the gurdwara.


Processions on Shivratri eve
Tribune Reporters

Batala, February 25
A religious procession was taken out on the eve of Shivratri here today. Mr Vijay Parbhakar, patron of Shri Mahadev Seva Samiti, led the procession.

It started from Old Grain Market culminated at Mian Mohalla after passing through Gandhi Chowk, City Road, Cinema Road, Circular Road, Khajuri Gate and other areas.

Tableaux depicting the life of the Lord Shiva accompanied the procession. The entire route of the procession was well decorated and langars were organised by the devotees on the way.

Abohar: Business activities on Circular Road came to a halt for about four hours in the afternoon as hundred of people joined the procession “Bhole Shankar Ki Barat”. The procession started from the Shiv Temple located on the gaushala road here.

Devotees offered sweets and sweet water to the “baratis”.

Meanwhile, preparations were in progress to celebrate Maha Shivratri at Rajyoga Centre, Nanak Nagar Shivpuri and other places.

Rishi Bodhotsav was celebrated at the LRS DAV Senior Secondary School here in memory of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, founder of the Arya Samaj. A havan and bhajan recitation competition marked the celebrations.


“Shagun scheme” amount raised
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 25
Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, addressed a district-level seminar on untouchability, organised by the Social Welfare Department at Ambedkar Bhawan today.

He said the government had created a special “ Special Dedicated Fund” of Rs 100 crore for various schemes for SC/BC sections of society. He said the government had decided to increase the amount of “Shagun scheme” from Rs 6100 to Rs 15000.

On this occasion, 100 peoples were given cheques worth Rs 6100 under the “Shagun scheme”. The panchayat of Nabipur village was declared the best panchayat for initiating various development projects and Mr Surjit Singh Sahi, sarpanch of the village, was presented a cheque of Rs 15000.


Daily wage earners on protest

Ropar, February 25
Daily wage earners working with the Forest Department today began an indefinite fast outside the office of the District Forest Office against non-payment of salaries.

About 350 daily wage earners had not got their salary for the past four months, claimed the wagers on protest. The president of the Daily Wagers Union, Mr Joga Singh, said: “We also demand that the new post in the department be filled on the basis of seniority.” OC


Over 4,600 cases settled at lok adalat

Gurdaspur, February 25
As many as 4625 pending cases were amicably settled in less than five hours at a special lok adalat organised here today by the Punjab Legal Services Authority (PLSA). About 11450 cases that were hanging fire in various courts at Gurdaspur, Batala and Pathankot were up before the 43 specially constituted benches at district courts complex, Gurdaspur.

Judicial officers, lawyers, social workers, members of various non-government organisations were part of the Benches that helped the litigating parties arrive at an amicable solution.

Interacting with mediapersons, Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, who is also executive chairman of the PLSA, disclosed that today's was the 54 th Special Lok Adalat organised by the PLSA.

"The response from the litigants and the public is very encouraging. We are happy alternate dispute redressal initiatives such as lok adalats are serving their purpose well," he said.

Earlier, Mr Justice Bedi inaugurated the permanent lok adalat at District courts complex, Gurdaspur. This is the third permanent lok adalat in Punjab districts.

Punjab and Haryana High Court Judges Mr Justice SS Saron, who is also inspecting judge for Gurdaspur, and Mr Justice Rajive Bhalla, District and Sessions Judge, Gurdaspur, Jora Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Vikas Pratap Singh, lawyers and senior officers were also present. — TNS


Two cops booked as undertrial escapes

Moga, February 25
Two cops posted at Jalandhar, who had brought an undertrial to the city for hearing in his case, have been booked, as the accused escaped from their custody while they were returning to Jalandhar.

According to sources, Constables Karaj Singh and Jawahar Singh had brought Satnam Singh Satta, who is an accused in a poppy husk case, to the city on February 22, as he had to appear in a local court the next day. After attending the hearing, they reached the bus stand where Jawahar Singh reportedly had some liquor.

The sources said he allegedly mixed some liquor in a soft drink and gave it to the constables too. When both of them got inebriated, the accused asked them to open his handcuffs so that he could also join them, following which he fled away.

Both cops have been booked. — TNS


Self-immolation bid: 4 riot victims released
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 25
Four widows who are victims of 1984 anti-Sikh riots and who were arrested yesterday by the local police after they held out a threat of self immolation in front of the residence of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, were released today from the Central Jail following the cancellation of a case registered against them.

The four widows, who first refused to get bail, alleged after coming out of jail that they were maltreated by some of the jail officials.

Activists of SAD (Badal) also staged a symbolic dharna in front of the jail today to lodge their protest against the failure of successive Congress governments in connection with the rehabilitation of the 1984 riot victims.

Yesterday after visiting the family members of Gopal Krishan Kashyap, who committed self immolation recently after allegedly being harassed by two close confidants of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, the four widows, who came here under the banner of ‘Widow Jatha’, announced that they would immolate themselves in front of Prime Minister’s house on February 28 to lodge a protest against the policies of Central Government framed in their connection.

The police, which had to face a lot of embarrassment following self immolation by Kashyap in full public view and in the presence of a contingent of police, swung into action immediately and took all four widows into custody and later sent them to jail after registering a case against them.

After coming out of jail, these four women, while claiming that they would attempt self immolation under any circumstance, alleged that the Chief Minister had been pursuing anti-Sikh policies by following the diktats of the Congress.


Armed men attack patient’s visitors, 2 hurt

Amritsar, February 25
At least 12 armed persons today barged into government-run Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital and injured two persons who had come to meet a patient. Personally enmity was the reason behind the attack.

The injured included Sukhjit Singh and Talwinder Singh, both residents of Verka, while the accused included Ram Singh, Kalu, Budhu, Mahavir, Deepu, Bomb and several other unidentified persons. A case under Sections 324, 506, 148 and 149, IPC, has been registered against them.

The accused, reportedly armed with sharp-edged weapons, tried to forcibly enter the room of Manpreet Singh Tinku with whom they had enmity. Sukhjit and Talwinder had come to meet Tinku. — OC


Minor girl being “forcibly married”
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 25
Nisha, (14), a seventh class student in a private school, yesterday alleged that her parents were marrying her forcibly to a person who was much older to her.

She along with her maternal grandmother, who resides in Dabkaranwali in walled city, alleged that her parents forcibly engaged her to one Santokh Singh, who was already married in a Gurdwara and fixed her marriage on April 14. The girl approached Jatinder Sonia, a councillor of the area, urging her to save her. Jatinder Sonia took the matter with police.

Mr Nirlep Singh, SHO, Rambagh, said that he had received the complaint and the matter was under investigation.


Sainik School cadets await scholarships
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, February 25
The cadets of Sainik School, Kapurthala, have not received their scholarships for the past two sessions despite repeated requests to the authorities concerned.

According to information the Punjab Government has failed to release the scholarship amount of around 76 lakh for 195 cadets from Punjab. On the other hand, the cadets from other states have been getting their scholarships regularly.

The state government had revised scholarships after a gap of 16 years following an assurance by Chief Minister Cap Amarinder Singh during his visit on the occasion of Independence Day in 2003.

Under the revised scholarship scheme, the lowest income slab was fixed at Rs 96,000 annually, for which the scholarship was proposed to be Rs 26,000.The second slab was that of Rs 1.2 lakh for which the amount was fixed at Rs 19,000 and for those having income up to Rs 1.44 lakh, the amount of Rs 13,000 was fixed as scholarship. Similarly, the cadets having family income of up to Rs 1.8 lakh were eligible for Rs 7,500 per annum. The slabs were revised from 2004-05 session.

“Hundreds of students eligible under the criteria had applied for the scholarships but only 16 cadets studying in Class X got it and that also for the session 2004-05 only. Others were still waiting for the scholarship, said Mr Boota Singh, president of the parent-teacher association of the school.

“How can a family with a meagre income of Rs 8,000 per month bear the expenses of their child studying in Sainik School without support of the government? said Mr Balbir Chand, the parent of a cadet from Ludhiana.

Mr Surinder Singh, father of Sehajvir Singh, a student of Class IX, said it would be impossible for the wards from lower income group families to study in the school if the state government did not release their scholarships.”


Jashan-2006 inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 25
Youth Festival JASHAN-2006 commenced with Bhangra, a popular folk dance of Punjab at Guru Nanak Dev University, here yesterday.

Mrs Vibhuraj, IPS, Senior Superintendent of Police, Majitha, inaugurated the festival. Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, a five- member Canadian delegation, besides faculty members were present on the occasion.

Mrs Vibhuraj addressing the student-artists advised the youth to stay away from drugs and gave a comprehensive scenario on fallouts of drugs and related crime. She exhorted students to educate others on ill effects of drugs.

Mrs Vibhuraj enthralled the audience by singing folk songs.

The five-member Canadian delegation were thrilled to watch Bhangra folk dance and was impressed with the colourful presentation of the students. Prof Cyndi McLeod, leader of the delegation in her brief address, expressed their joy in watching cultural programmes.

More than 500 students from various teaching departments of the University are participating in various items of Fine Art, Theatre, Music and Dance.


Scholars reflect on WTO impact
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 25
The UGC-sponsored ‘National Seminar on Economic Reforms under WTO Regime’, organised by the Department of Commerce and Business Management of Guru Nanak Dev University, concluded here today.

The scholars, attending the seminar, urged the government not to shirk its duties in economic and service sectors in the face of crisis-ridden conditions created by the WTO.

The distinguished scholars pointed towards a dire need for easing credit facilities for small-sector industries and to improve infrastructure.

They recommended that the FDI in manufacturing sector should be encouraged for strengthening of financial sector.

They stressed for amendments in Trade Related Investment Measures (TRIMS) agreement so that FDI was allowed only in those sectors where local raw material was used.

They also exhorted developing countries to wage relentless struggle against export subsidies by developed countries to farmers

Dr D.R. Singh, Director, GNA Institute of Management and Technology, Phagwara, presided over the valedictory function while Dr. Amarjit Singh Sidhu and Dr. B.S. Hundal, coordinators of the seminar, thanked delegates.


SAARC workshop ends
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 25
Eminent experts here to participate in sixth SAARC workshop on water-saving technologies unanimously recommended that the rain water harvesting and ground water recharge be effected by law by all states in areas suitable for the purpose.

They further resolved that municipal water be reclaimed for reuse and reclamation be made compulsory for all corporations. The urban development be planned with better water distribution and sanitation systems to bring about water economy.

This SAARC workshop organised by the Department of Botanical and Environmental Sciences of Guru Nanak Dev University in collaboration with United States Educational Foundation in India (USEFI) concluded here today.


Jaswant Rai lecture at GND varsity
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 25
Dr. P.N. Tandon, a decorated Neuroscientist and Director of National Brain Research Centre (NBRC), Gurgaon (Haryana) stressed the need to coordinate clinical research with Basic Sciences. He gave the example of work being done at the NBRC in finding genetic cause of lack of response to treatment in Schizophrenia.

He was addressing audience at ‘Sardar Jaswant Singh Rai Memorial Lecture’ held at Guru Nanak Dev University.

The lecture was organised by Department of Human Genetics University. Dr Jai Rup Singh, Coordinator of Department, introduced Prof. Tandon while Dr Gursatej Gandhi, Head of the Human Genetics Department welcomed him.

Speaking on ‘Post Genomics Era-Wither Next’ Prof Tandon emphasized that next phase of genomics research required greater focus on both biological understanding and clinical research.

He explained the interrelations between diverse fields like Molecular Genetic Research, Bioinformatics, Epidemiology, Proteomics and Clinical Research.


Panel defends teacher facing moral turpitude charges

Amritsar, February 25
The Democratic Teachers’ Front and panchayat of Jouns Mohar village of Ajnala today came to the rescue of the beleaguered teacher, Mr Manish Sood, a PT teacher of Government High School, Jouns Mohar, and demanded a high-level probe by a enquiry committee led by a principal against the serious allegations of moral turpitude by a girl of the school against the PT teacher.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Amarjit Singh Bhalla, district president of the front, claimed that Manish, who was a gold medalist player, was a hardworking young teacher who had produced many players in athletics and gymnastics at the state-level from the school. He claimed that the allegations were baseless and politically motivated.

The front alleged that a teacher in the school, who was running a private school in the village, was behind the entire episode. It said the teacher had personal grudge with the PT teacher who was the third senior teacher in the government school. — OC


Trains for railway exam candidates
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, February 25
The Railways will introduce 18 special trains on Feb 26 and 27 to facilitate the candidates appearing for the examination of the Railway Recruitment Board starting tomorrow.

Railway sources said the special trains would ply on Delhi-Varanasi, Delhi-Allahabad, Nizammudin-Bangalore, Delhi-Jodhpur, Lucknow-Murdabad, Delhi-Dehra Dun, Dehra Dun-Ghaziabad, Lucknow-Patna, Lucknow-Gaya, Lucknow-Ghaziabad, Lucknow-Partapgarh, Lucknow-Varanasi, Amritsar-Patna, Chandigarh-Ambala, Delhi-Mujjaffarpur, Delhi-Bhagalpur, Delhi-Barauni, Delhi-Ismalia, Delhi-Riwa, Delhi-Malda, Delhi-Sialdah, Delhi-Dibrugarh, Delhi-Rajindernagar, Delhi-Rajgir, Amritsar-Darbhanga, Delhi-Bareilly and Delhi-Raksol lines.


Workshop on network security
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 25
With a view to generating the awareness about cyber laws, the Rayat Institute of Management has organised a day long seminar HACKCON ‘06-cum-practical workshop on network security on its campus here today. Besides the cyber law information, the expert faculty cautioned the students about the cyber laws enforced in India, which keeps a watch on hackers both professionals and the fun loving ones.

The workshop was divided into two technical sessions — introductory session and technical session. The students were briefed about various issues like scanning, spoofing, various network vulnerabilities and exploits that needs to be protected, fingerprinting techniques, and monitoring of local network through available tools.


Training programme for jobless youths
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 25
The Sangrur district employment office in collaboration with Gateway Education and Welfare Society, yesterday organised a training programme in computer software and hardware for the unemployed youths registered with the district employment office, here.

Presiding over the programme, Mr Amar Bhushan Aggarwal, District Employment Officer, Sangrur, explained in detail about different courses and training facilities in the field of information technology and computer software and hardware, besides job opportunities in this field.

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