P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Inclement weather may hit wheat yield
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 11
There are apprehensions of adverse affects of weather on wheat yield. Both scanty rain and associated temperature fluctuations during the winter are likely to play spoilsport in respect of rabi crops this year. This was stated by PAU agrometeorologists PS Sehra and KK Gill in their report on impact of weather on wheat crop.

PAU agrometeorologists said the below normal and freezing temperature and ground frost in the first half of January damaged some rabi crops and vegetables like potato, tomato and brinjal whereas above normal temperature from the end of January onwards to some extent adversely affected the wheat crop.

The frequency of western disturbances in winter has not been satisfactory, particularly over Punjab and adjoining areas. It is these disturbances which bring rain and control day and night temperatures. However, some western disturbances did bring above normal rainfall and snow over Jammu and Kashmir, where actual rainfall in January-February was 251 mm against a normal of 201 mm, which means 24 per cent above normal.

Due to unsatisfactory frequency of weather disturbances over Punjab, the actual rainfall was deficient by 79 per cent. The state received only 10 mm rain against a normal of 47 mm. Since temperatures are also controlled by these disturbances, this year during January the average maximum temperature remained 0.3 degree C above normal. But in February, the maximum and minimum temperatures were 4.5 degrees C and 4.1 degrees C, respectively.

Both Sehra and Gill have maintained that it is difficult to predict the exact loss in wheat yield right now. However, quantity and quality will be affected due to scanty rainfall and temperature fluctuations in January-February.

The above normal rain and snow over Jammu and Kashmir in January-February has helped keep temperatures down over Punjab and adjoining areas due to the prevailing cold winds. This gives a ray of hope that loss of yield of wheat will to some extent be compensated.

At present, Punjab and adjoining areas are under the influence of western disturbances with an intensive low pressure area over Rajasthan, which is likely to cause scattered rain and thunder showers in the region during the next 24 hours. Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal are likely to receive scattered to fairly widespread rain and snow in the next two days.

As predicted, an active western disturbance is affecting north-west India and is likely to lead to rain or snow over hilly regions during the next 48 hours.

In fact, inductive cyclonic circulation caused by western disturbances is expected to interact over central India resulting in fairly widespread rain accompanied by thunderstorms in the north- central, east and north- east during the next four days.

PAU scientists have advised farmers to avoid irrigation to wheat crop during the next two days to avoid possible damage (lodging) due to winds.


Debt-burdened farmer ends life
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 11
Finding his dream of starting a debt-free life shattered, Naib Singh, a small farmer at Bishanpura village, near here, committed suicide last night. The body has been brought for a post-mortem at Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital, here.

Family sources said Naib Singh, owner of 3.5 acres of agricultural land, had taken a loan of Rs 1 lakh from a local bank a few years back. With the cotton crop getting damaged and a decline in the yield of wheat due to unfriendly weather he was able to repay Rs 80,000 only.

He planned to dispose of the small landholding to clear the remaining Rs 20,000 and settle at Indergarh village in Rajasthan where his brother is settled. He was to clear another loan advanced to him by a commercial bank branch at Seetogunno village in this subdivision.

Mukhtiar Singh Himmatpura, father-in-law of the victim, said Naib Singh, succumbing to the pressure mounted by officials of the banks to clear the dues before March to escape entries under the NPA, agreed to sell the entire landholding at Rs 1.5 lakh per acre. The sale deed was to be executed before March 31 as per the terms and conditions settled through a middleman with a farmer of Kular village here.

The sources said Naib Singh later realised that the rate was Rs 4 lakh per acre. He was not allowed to cancel the sale agreement. Yesterday, he visited the local bank office but was shocked to find that the balance Rs 20,000 had multiplied with interest and penalties.

A bewildered Naib Singh returned home in the evening but left after a brief talk with wife Veerpal Kaur and minor son Ramgopal Singh.

Mrs Veerpal Kaur said she went out to milk cattle after an hour. As the calf ran away she chased it but was stunned to find her husband hanging with a tree near the fields. As she started crying, people rushed for help. They took Naib Singh to the civil hospital at Seetogunno but it was too late.


Farmers head to Gujarat for cheap cotton seed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 11
While deceiving cotton seed dealers are sharpening their knives to fleece unsuspecting farmers of cotton belt, the latter are following their footsteps and are boarding train to Gujarat for purchasing the seeds of their choice at lower prices.

The Tribune team today spotted scores of cotton growers hailing from Bathinda, Muktsar and Mansa districts alighting with packets of cotton seeds at the local railway station from Jammu Tawi-Ahmedabad Express.

Sukhmandar Singh from a Muktsar village, said: “A large number of cotton farmers from Punjab and Haryana are flocking to Gujarat for purchasing cotton seeds. In our state a packet of cotton seed comes at a price of Rs 1,600 and still there is no surety whether the seed we are buying are genuine or not, whereas the same cotton seed packet is available at Rs 600 in Gujarat”.

Another farmer, Labh Singh, said a single firm had the monopoly of selling cotton seeds in Punjab and in such a scenario the government should either decrease its prices or open up the market for other companies too. “We are highly vulnerable to loot by deceptive traders who easily befool us on authenticity of cotton seeds. At times, we end up paying huge amount for spurious cotton seeds,” he lamented.

A farmer requesting anonymity said: “Though we succeeded in bringing home cotton seeds from Gujarat, we faced a lot of harassment from some GRP men who asked us to grease their palms. We had to pool Rs 200 for them after which they let us off”. He said if they had to pay a hefty bribe to someone on the way it would not nullify their effort.

On the other hand, the Chairman of Export Cell of the North India Cotton Association, Mr Ashok Kapoor, attributed the trend, which is prevalent for the past couple of years, to the lack of authorised centres for selling cotton seeds in the state and ignorance about seeds among the farmers. Referring to the farmers’ demand, he said: “A monopolised situation prevails in Punjab as far as cotton seeds are concerned and entry of more firms into the market would bring down the seed prices as well as ease its availability”.

He said there was also a risk of the farmers falling prey to unscrupulous dealers in Gujarat, which would spell doom for them. He said last year’s bumper cotton crop would motivate more farmers to switch over to cotton farming and more area was expected to shift from paddy to cotton this year. He said the government, which was exhorting farmers to reduce area under paddy and had done little to make them aware, should sensitise the farmers on cotton seeds, as it would help them move towards cotton cultivation.


Court annuls Hawara’s marriage
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 11
Mr Jaspal Singh Chugh, Additional District Judge, Fast Track Court, today annulled (ex parte) the marriage of Balwinder Kaur (20) with Jagtar Singh Hawara, chief of Babbar Khalsa International in India, on a petition filed by Balwinder under Section 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, for the annulment of her marriage with Hawara.

The petition was filed by Balwinder in the court of District Judge K.K. Garg on November 22, 2005. Mr Garg entrusted the case to the Additional District Judge on November 23 for further proceedings.

The Fast Track Court issued a notice to Hawara for January 3, but he failed to appear in the court personally or through his counsel, the judge on February 17 initiated ex parte proceedings and fixed March 3 for evidence. On the said date, Balwinder, her father Dara Singh, and a relative of Dara Singh got their statements recorded in the form of affidavits in the court.

In today’s order, the judge has mentioned that in view of the no rebutted and unchallenged evidence led on the record by the petitioner, this court has no hesitation except to hold that the respondent has deceived the petitioner and misrepresented and concealed the material facts. Therefore, the petition of Balwinder is allowed and ex parte decree is hereby passed in favour of the petitioner and against the respondent by annulling their marriage.

In her petition, Balwinder had sought the annulment of her marriage on the plea that she was an innocent woman who was cheated by Hawara, who introduced himself as Sahib Singh, who was residing in Canada. She also mentioned that she had learnt that Hawara was already married and had not divorced his earlier wife. If she knew that the man was Hawara and was already married, she would not have given her consent for marriage.

Balwinder Kaur is currently in judicial custody in connection with a case registered against her and others at the Dhuri police station. 


BBMB’s ambitious bio-diesel project
Plans to plant Jatropha in wastelands
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, March 11
The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) has devised a novel method to earn profit out of its wastelands. The Talwara-based management of the board has planned to venture into generating bio-diesel by resorting to commercial farming of Jatropha plant.

While talking to The Tribune, Mr N.K. Jasrai, Chief Engineer, BBMB, said the organisation had 500 acres of wasteland in Talwara. A project had been made for planting Jatropha in the wasteland and Chandigarh-based PESCO had given its consent for helping the BBMB in the bio-friendly project, he added.

As per the project, the BBMB can grow 2,500 plants of Jatropha per hectare. The plants start giving yield after two years and reach maturity in five years. After the maturity, the plant starts giving a minimum yield of 5 tonne seeds per hectare. The yield can go up to 7 tonne per hectare.

The seeds give 25 per cent oil yield. As per the conservative estimates, 1,550 litres oil per annum can be recovered per hectare of Jatropha plantation. The oil from the seeds can be extracted through ordinary expeller. Besides oil, the seeds also generate 3.75 tonnes of oil cake per hectare that can be used as an excellent bio-manure.

Mr S.K. Mittal, SE in charge of the project, said as per the studies the purified Jatropha seed oil could be mixed directly with diesel as 20 per cent mixture without affecting any changes in engine. The BBMB expects to generate 2,94,500 litres Jatropha oil per annum. Initially the oil mixed with diesel would be used to run the vehicles of the BBMB.

Besides the wasteland, the BBMB is also planning to use its land on the banks of the Pong Dam lake for Jatropha plantation. Thousands of acres of BBMB land was lying waste on lake banks. The land was being used by encroachers for farming.

Mr Jasrai said the Jatropha farms of the BBMB could act as role model for the farmers of the Kandi areas surrounding Talwara as the land in those areas was not much productive for traditional crops as wheat or paddy due lesser availability of water.


Youths' charge against HIV positive woman
Chander Parkash
Tribune News service

Patiala, March 11
In a bizarre case, some youths here today alleged that they had become HIV positive after they were "lured by an HIV positive widow, whose husband had died of AIDS about a year ago".

Talking to mediapersons today, two such youths, while keeping their identity secret, pointed out that they had come to know that they were HIV positive, as they had been referred to the PGI, Chandigarh, for their CD/4 test by local doctors, who had carried out their initial test in laboratories. They added that they had become HIV positive after they kept on having physical relations with that widow, who had been in this profession under different names in this city for the past eight to 10 years. They alleged that she never allowed them to adopt safety methods.

They pointed out that they had become physically weak and were always running temperature. A youth said he had broken his engagement after he came to know that he had become HIV positive.

They said that they had taken the bold step to disclose about their disease to save other youths, who had been making youths HIV positive deliberately and attracting them towards her by offering money.

They added that they also knew some military men coming to the house of the widow. They said that as per their information, the widow had made dozens of youths and military personnel HIV positive in the past few years.

Though these youths have approached the police authorities with the demand that the widow, who has been spreading the deadly disease among the army personnel and others "under a conspiracy", SSP A. S. Rai said the police authorities could not take any action in this connection till a written complaint was made in this regard.

While confirming that a verbal complaint had been lodged with the police officials by one of the youths against the widow for her alleged involvement in making the youths HIV positive, he said whenever a written complaint was received in this connection, it would be investigated and action would taken. He said some people were trying to give the issue a communal colour.

The widow, who has been putting up in a thickly populated locality here, when contacted, while admitting the fact that she was HIV positive and had been getting financial aid from the government, said false allegations were being levelled against her. She claimed that she was not indulging in any immoral activity. However, she failed to give a convincing reply when asked from where she had been getting huge money with which she had been enjoying a number of comforts of life.

Meanwhile, Mr Sanjiv Hari Dass, president, All-India Hindu Suraksha Samiti, alleged that some forces, which were working against India, were trying to push youths and military men towards death after making them HIV positive by using such methods.

He said the matter had been taken up with President and Prime Minister of India, Chief Minister of Punjab and state and district police authorities and if no action was taken against the widow and other such women, who had been working for anti-India forces, the Hindu Suraksha Samiti would launch an agitation.


Chinese team for closer ties
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 11
It’s high time when we should forget the past differences and work for strengthening the friendship between India and China, said the head of a delegation of the Chinese People Association for Peace and Disarmament, Mr Liu Jingquin, here today.

The delegation has come here on the invitation of the All-India Peace and Solidarity Organisation, New Delhi. Talking about the recent agreement on nuclear energy between India and the USA, he said it would help India create better relations with other countries. Others members of the delegation include Niu Qiang, Hou Hongyu, Ms Jiang Ling, Cui Guozhong, Ms Shi Dongmei.


NRI for comprehensive development
of state, Amritsar

Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 11
The Punjabi diaspora has decided to help the state government to build world-class infrastructure, especially in the field of education and health.

The coordinator of US-based Punjab Intellectia, an organisation formed by renowned economist and former employee of the World Bank, Mr Harbhajan Singh said they had produced an analytical approach paper about the ills faced by Punjab. He said Punjab today lacked macro-planning, which needed a thorough professional approach to overcome the deficiency in the overall development of the state.

According to Mr Harbhajan Singh, the state today required about $5 billion to come up with A-class infrastructure, including roads, power, water supply and to upgrade the education and health system. He said the Punjab Government must look for funding from the World Bank and come up with a master plan so that the ambitious project undertaken could be implemented in a planned way. He said that the Punjabi diaspora was anxiously awaiting the response from the state government to go into the nitty-gritty of the planned development paper.

Mr Harbhajan Singh said they had formed Amritsar Development Charitable Organisation to set up funds for the cleanliness of the holy city. He said to begin with, 15 persons who would contribute $300 each at a modest contribution to clean the stretch from the railway station to the Golden Temple in a phased manner. He said this would be only a symbolic gesture, as a majority of Punjabis settled in the USA were keen to make the city beautiful. It would create awareness among different sections of society about their environment and promised to contribute more funds to various NGOs working for the welfare of the holy city.


A helping hand for NRIs
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, March 11
In order to solve the problems faced by non-resident Indians (NRIs) back in India, “Hoshiarpur NRI Helpline” has been set-up by a group of local social workers and a couple of NRIs hailing from the UK.

Though the area of operations of the newly set up helpline would be extended to the whole of the country, initially the helpline volunteers would be catering to UK-based NRIs whose queries pertain to the Doaba region.

“We feel that a large number of NRIs come face to face with a couple of common problems when they come back and usually they don’t find any helping hand here to assist them in tackling these problems. So, the helpline would fill the void and strive hard to solve the problems of NRIs in every possible manner,” said Mr Anurag Sood, general secretary of the Sarb Dharam Sadbhawana Committee and NRI Shiv Datt Ohri.

Other members of the helpline include Mr Satpal Singh Parmar, Councilor, Saloh (London), Mr Umesh Chander Sharma, former Mayor of Eeling (London), Mr Avtaar Singh Layal, Mr Ujagar Singh Labia, Thakur Rattan Singh Rajput, Mr Suresh Mittar Tiwari, Mr Nirmal Singh Bolina and Mr Rajneesh Parashar.


SAD men allege favouritism in bank poll
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, March 11
Workers of the SAD today protested against the Punjab Government for allegedly favouring Congress workers in the elections to the posts of the directors and the Chairman of Gurdaspur Central Cooperative Bank.

The SAD workers got agitated when the District Manager of the bank refused to accept the resolution of some of the cooperative societies for nominating their representative for voting scheduled on March 13. They alleged that the bank manager refused to accept their papers on the plea that the resolution should be counter signed by the authorities of the Cooperative Department.

The procedure had been added just to exclude cooperative societies favoured by the SAD from the election process, they alleged.

The bank officials said they were following the government directions. The resolutions had to be counter signed by the office-bearers to ascertain if the cooperative societies were defaulters of the bank or not. The defaulter cooperative societies were not allowed to participate in the elections, they said.

The elections for the management of Gurdaspur Central Cooperative Bank are being held after the term of the former chairman belonging to the SAD, Mr Jagdish Singh Walia, ended about six months ago. Mr Walia is unlikely to contest due to ill health.

The Youth Congress leader from Batala, Mr Ravinder Sharma, the district president of the Congress, Mr Gurbachan Singh Babaehali, and Mr Naresh Puri, son of Housing and Urban Development Minister Raghunath Sahai Puri, are in the race for the post of the Chairman of the bank.

There are 11 zones of the Gurdaspur Central Cooperative Bank. The nominees of the cooperative societies send a director from each zone to the board of the bank. The directors then elect the Chairman. On March 13 the nominees of cooperative societies would file nominations for the elections. If the directors are not elected unopposed the elections will be held on March 20.


Disqualify secretaries, demands ex-minister
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 11
Former Akali minister Dalip Singh Pandhi has petitioned the Punjab Governor against the appointment of several MLAs as chief parliamentary secretaries, on the ground that their appointments are violative of the Constitution.

Mr Pandhi has claimed that since the Punjab Chief Minister has appointed these MLAs as chief parliamentary secretaries and parliamentary secretaries, which are offices of profit, they have attracted the disqualification under the provisions of the Constitution.

He has named Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Dr Harbans Lal, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi (all chief parliamentary secretaries), Ms Harbans Kaur Dullo, Rana K.P. Singh, Mr Parkash Singh, Dr R.K. Verka, Ms Razia Sultan, Mr S.S. Dharamsot, Mr S.S. Randhawa, Mr Sunil Jakhar, Mr Surinder Kumar Dawar and Mr Ashwani Sekhri (all parliamentary secretaries) as those whose appointments are violative of the Constitution.

Mr Pandhi has claimed that many a time the matter had been raised at various public fora but the Chief Minister has done little to remove them from their posts. He has asked the Governor to disqualify the respondents as members of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.


Union Budget has ignored Punjab’s interests: BJP
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 11
While commenting on the Union Budget for 2006-07, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, MP and state BJP chief, said the Finance Minister had completely ignored the interests of Punjab.

Being a border state, Punjab had required special package for providing employment to its youth as farm sector was enable to cope with the requirements of about 3 lakh unemployed youth of the state. He urged the Finance Minister to announce special package for Punjab.

In a press note issued here yesterday, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna said there was zero per cent custom duty on vanaspati in the neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, whereas in the Union Budget it had been raised from 30 per cent to 80 per cent, which would create further imbalance. The government should think over the increase.

He pointed out about the shortage of potable water in the Kandi and Bet areas of his constituency. He said the Finance Minister had made provision for the repair and modernisation of water supply schemes. Water in eight districts of Punjab had become contaminated on account of the increase of fluoride from 3 per cent to 8 per cent.

Referring to female foeticide, he said though their was a law to check it, but it was not implemented effectively and as a result the number of females were decreasing day by day.

The youths were indulging themselves in intoxication. The government should take suitable steps to check this trend. He criticised the proposed importing of wheat from Pakistan. He said no one was satisfied with the Budget.


Health centre needs ‘‘treatment’’
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Hazipur (Hoshiarpur), March 11
The ill-equipped Community Health Centre (CHC) here is crying for “treatment” despite being situated in the home district of the state Health Minister, Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra.

Serving over 105 surrounding villages, the “health” of the health centre, Hazipur, has reportedly deteriorated following the setting up of a government hospital at Bhol Kalota, the native village of Mr Dogra.

Residents of the area lament that the shortage of doctors and paramedical staff in the centre had hit health services being provided to over 110 villages.

The posts of doctor in various departments, including the orthopaedics, the ENT and the dental wing, have been lying vacant for the past many years. Patients are forced to go to Dasuya, Mukerian, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar and other medical institutes nearby to get treatment.

The villagers allege that in the absence of any permanent radiographer and paramedical staff they have to get their X-ray done at private clinics.

Sources in the department said that the hospital was being run with a skeletal staff. The shortage of doctors and other staff had hit the healthcare adversely in past over four years. Doctors are forced to work in different dispensaries on alternate days.

The sources said that the rural wing and the primary health centre of the health centre had virtually shifted to Bholkalota hospital without government’s permission.

A visit by The Tribune team revealed that the rooms of the orthopaedic surgeon, the dental surgeon, the ENT doctor and the medical specialist were locked. The X-ray machine was gathering dust in a dingy room while the only operation theatre was locked with medical equipments rusting inside.

The trauma ward and general wards were in a bad shape. Dr Shashi Kataria, Senior Medical Officer (SMO), admitted that the health centre was facing shortage of three doctors. She also admitted that the post of dental surgeon had been lying vacant for the past couple of years.

Dr Kataria claimed that the operation theatre is being used for treating minor problems relating to gynaecology. She, however, denied the shifting of the rural and the primary wings of the health centre.


BJP seeks probe into ‘shady’ land deals
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 11
Local BJP leaders has sought CBI enquiry into the alleged land scams involving the local bodies minister, Choudhry Jagjit Singh, Amritsar Improvement Trust and the municipal corporation.

In a press conference here today, the BJP leaders, including Ms Lakshmi Kanta Chawla, state vice-president, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, former health minister, Mr Bakshi Ram Arora, former chairman of the improvement trust, and district BJP (urban) president, said they would hold a demonstration against the government at Hall Gate on March 13 and would present a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner in this regard.

Citing examples, Mr Arora said the Vidhan Sabha Speaker had ordered an enquiry only in the exemption of 32 acres of prime land “against the rules to accommodate a private colonizer” in New Amritsar on Amritsar-Jalandhar GT Road. He said there were many other cases that should be highlighted to counter the nefarious designs of land mafias that were backed by several ministers and MLAs. The former chairman of the improvement trust alleged that all rules and norms were thrown to winds, as there was no rule to exempt the land.

Giving another example, he said about 10,000 yds of prime land in front of the Red Cross Bhavan in posh Ranjit Avenue area was earmarked for residential plots. Shockingly, he alleged, the land use was changed by depositing Rs 1.90 crore even as a case was pending in the court.

However, Additional Secretary of the state government, Department of Local Bodies, said permission of the change of land use from industrial to commercial was on the recommendation of the MC to shift industry from the residential area.

Mr Arora further alleged that the land mafia was also eyeing on the prime property adjoining Aanem cinema, which was vacated from the police department after huge efforts.

He said another land adjacent to BSNL telephone exchange at Chamrang road was also been encroached upon by the certain unscrupulous persons while the improvement trust authorities turned blind eye to this.


Punjab Writers and Cultural Forum
holds symposium

S.D. Sharma

Chandigarh, March 11
Patiala-based Punjab Writers and Cultural Forum, a leading socio-cultural organisation devoted to the cause of peace, harmony and propagation of ethical values through an ideal education system, held a symposium at the Chandigarh Press club today.

Prominent social thinkers, litterateurs and many bureaucrats complimented the forum for its bold and brave effort for encouraging those who fought for checking terrorism in Punjab when it had assumed threatening dimensions.

Terrorism and civilised society cannot go together, feels every one but there were a very few like this forum to come forward to condemn it, said the acclaimed freedom fighter, Dr Kewal Krishan, Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha. He exhorted one and all to imbibe the teachings of seers and contribute for the building of an ideal society. He was appreciative of the endeavor of the writers’ forum to revive the Utopian era through ideal education as he released a book “Emerging Trend In Education” and “Patiala and Punjab Rattan awards,” brought out by the forum.

Earlier, the forum’s founder, chairman Ved Parkash Gupta, gave an account of the welfare projects carried out by them to build confidence among the masses to brave the terrorism.

Dr S.M. Devgan talking of the present education system sought to make it more dynamic and value-based. Education is the base of humanity and it is imperative to design the system accordingly to cultivate the qualities of an ideal human being.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Dr B.C. Gupta, Mr H.S. Dardi and Dr Madan Lal Hasija also spoke on the occasion. The forum also honoured many dignitaries.


Panel chief reviews welfare schemes for SCs
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 11
The Chairman of the Punjab State SC Commission, Mr Niranjan Singh, on Thursday held a meeting with the district administration and police officials to take stock of the implementation of schemes for the Scheduled Castes.

The chairman reviewed various schemes of welfare department relating to education, scholarship, stenography training camps, free stationery, construction of dharamshalas and grant for homeless in the rural areas.

Responding to a query on Ashirwad Scheme, he said members of the SC community and people from below poverty line whose daughters were to get married in next six months should get their caste certificates prepared so that they could get benefit of the scheme. He also issued instructions to all government departments to put up display boards mentioning progress made in various welfare schemes.

He also asked the officials to hold seminars at various levels to sensitise masses on how to get benefited from these schemes. He directed the education officials to ensure scholarships to eligible students and free books to SC students studying in Class I to X.

Deputy Commissioner Rahul Bhandari said the district was taking lead in implementing schemes for the welfare of SCs, while SSP Kapil Dev assured that atrocities on SCs would not be allowed. Mr B.R. Banga, a commission member, said suggestions received in the meeting would be placed before the state government.


Sarbjit’s family threatens immolation
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 11
The family members of Sarbjit Singh, alias Manjit Singh, who has been awaiting the amnesty from death penalty in Pakistan awarded due to ‘mistaken identity’, today threatened to commit self-immolation at the Wagah Joint Check Post if the Government of India failed to take up his case with Pakistan within a month.

Ms Dalbir Kaur, sister of Sarbjit Singh, along with Sarbjit’s wife Sukhpreet Kaur and two daughters announced that residents of Bhikhiwind, the native town of Sarbjit Singh, would block traffic on the main road in protest against the ‘callous attitude’ of the Central Government towards the Sarbjit issue.

They said if the Central Government failed to take up the case with President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf then they would block Delhi-Lahore, Amritsar-Lahore buses and the Samjhauta Express. Ms Dalbir Kaur said the Central Government should not take the threat of self-immolation lightly.

Ms Dalbir Kaur said she had furnished all relevant documents to prove that “Sarbjit Singh is Sarbjit Singh and not Manjit Singh, who was responsible for the series of bomb blasts in various parts of Pakistan”. 


Hoshiarpur on list of backward districts
Our Correspondent

Phillaur March 11
Hoshiarpur has been selected as a pilot district and has been included among 200 backward districts of the country to be covered under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme launched by Union Government.

This was stated here on Thursday by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee secretary Parminder Mehta, who has been appointed member of the monitoring committee set up by PPCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo with the consent of the AICC. The scheme was formulated at the initiative of UPA Chairperson and Congress President Sonia Gandhi by the Union Government.

The Centre is providing 90 per cent funds for implementing the scheme. Mr Mehta alleged that a few non-Congress governments were trying to take credit for this scheme.

According to Mr Mehta, Mrs Sonia Gandhi has summoned a convention of DCC chiefs from these 200 districts on March 18 at New Delhi.


Protest against police raids on MC chief’s house
Our correspondent

Barnala, March 11
Cutting across the party lines various political activists today came together on a common front to protest against the alleged police highhandedness against their leaders. The city observed a complete bandh against the police raids on the residences of municipal committee president Makhan Sharma and two others late last evening.

According to sources, the local police raided the residence of Mr Sharma (Congress leader), Beopar Mandal activist Anil Naana and BJP leader Dheeraj Kumar Dadhoor in connection with a case registered against them on the complaint of Income Tax officials on February 2. The I-T officials who raided some business houses on that day complained that the said leaders prevented them from discharging their duties and snatched official document from them.

Meanwhile, the police today rounded up municipal councillors Mahesh Kumar Lotta and Varinder Kumar Happy while they were instigating businessmen to close their shutters. They were later let off. The city observed bandh and a protest march was held led by SAD MLA Malkeet Singh Keetu.

When contacted SSP G. Nageshwar Rao said the raid was a part of their investigation in a case registered against the leaders.


1 killed, 3 hurt as earth caves in
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 11
One labourer was killed and three others were wounded when earth caved in while they were removing blockage in a sewerage pipe, opposite the main gate of the police lines here this afternoon.

The deceased labourer was identified as Happy, son of Som Nath, of the local Mohalla Rishi Nagar. The injured were identified as Kala of Chamkaur Sahib, Sarup Singh of Rahimpur and Harbhajan Lal of Handowalgarh Bhikhowal. All were admitted to the local Civil Hospital, where their condition was stated to be stable.

According to police sources, the sewerage pipe of the residential colony of the police lines was choked for the past many days. The police first hired two labourers, who dug about 15 feet deep site. Later Happy, Naresh, Som Nath and Kala were sent by the Sanitary Inspector of the local Municipal Council to remove the blocgade. When they were working in the pit, its sandy walls suddenly collapsed, resulting in the cave-in.

Mr Pritam Singh ,SDM, said that Rs 10,000 had been given by the Deputy Commissioner from the District Red Cross Society to the family of deceased for his cremation etc. He said free medical treatment of all the injured labourers were being done.


Truckers jam traffic

Nangal, March 11
A large number of commuters today faced inconvenience at the Ajauli road which connects the town to Una district of Himachal Pradesh when truck operators jammed the traffic for more than hour.

Nangal truck operators had yesterday announced that they would stop trucks from Himachal Pardesh to protest against the death of a truck operator in the police firing by the Himachal police at Goalthai in Bilaspur district on March 5.

A Himachal MLA, Thakur Ram Lal, and a local MLA and Parliamentary Secretary Industry and Commerce, Mr K.P.S. Rana, would meet the truck operators here tomorrow to sort out the dispute. — TNS


Forum gives relief to consumers
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 11
The District Consumer Forum, Hoshiarpur, headed by Mr BC Gupta, president, and Mr Amarjit Singh Jauhar, member, has accepted the complaint of Ms Balwinder Kaur, resident of Pandori Mallian village in this district and has directed the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to release the tubewell connection to the complainant on the basis of seniority in the category concerned immediately if her turn for the tubewell connection has matured and if persons junior to her have been released connections.

The forum further directed the PSEB to pay Rs 2500 as compensation to the complainant and interest at the rate of 9 per cent per annum on Rs 9000 already deposited by her on January 7, 2002, till the actual release of connection.

However, if her turn for release of connection on the basis of original seniority has not arrived, the PSEB should refund Rs 9000 with interest at the rate of 9 per cent per annum from the date of deposit till the date of payment and to issue demand notice again to her. This refund would not amount to cancellation of the application for the grant of tubewell connection. The forum has also directed the PSEB to pay Rs 1000 to the complainant as cost of litigation.

Ms Balwinder Kaur in her complaint stated that she submitted an application to the PSEB for a tubewell connection on January 20, 1989 and that the test report was also submitted on January 7, 2002 after depositing Rs 9000. But the PSEB had failed to release her the required connection.

In another case, the forum has accepted the complaint of Mr Shanti Sarup Sud, a resident of Hoshiarpur, and has directed the New India Insurance Company to pay Rs 57,483 along with a compensation of Rs 3000 and litigation expenses of Rs 1000 within two months, failing which the complainant would be entitled to get interest at the rate of 9 per cent per annum from the date of the complaint till the date of payment.

In his complaint, Mr Shanti Sarup Sud stated that his wife had got herself insured from New India Insurance Company. When she got medical treatment as an indoor patient from Jalandhar, the insurance company illegally repudiated the claim on the ground that she had been suffering from hernia for the past two years. She was insured on June 15, 1999 continuously up to August 15, 2005, and therefore, the objection of the insurance company was found to be frivolous.


Rly inspector remanded in graft case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 11
Ms Harinder Kaur, Special Magistrate (CBI), today remanded Pardeep Kumar Sharma, Chief Inspector of Works (CIW), Northern Railways, who was allegedly caught accepting Rs 20,000 as bribe from a contractor for clearing bills yesterday, to judicial custody till March 24.

Public prosecutor Pawan Kumar Dogra represented the CBI. It may be recalled that a complaint was made to the CBI against the inspector by one Mr Ramesh Kumar Dahia, a resident of Hissar.


Cop, three others booked for
registering complaint in back date
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, March 11
The police has booked a Head Constable Baljit Singh posted as “munshi” at the Kalanaur police station and three others on charges of forgery. The cop has been accused of registering a complaint in back date to help a party in a property dispute case.

The matter came to fore in an investigation carried out by the SP (Gurdaspur) on the complaint of Mr Khushal Vohra, a resident of Kalanaur. Mr Khushal Vohra had alleged that he had a dispute over the distribution of property with his brother Rajinder Vohra and partner Sita Devi. The dispute was settled amicably in the presence of elders of the area.

His brother Rajinder Vohra gave him a cheque of Rs 85 lakh as his share in the firm they owned jointly. The cheque, however, bounced. He moved court against his brother who issued him the cheque.

However, to escape paying him the due share, the accused got a complaint registered in back date at the Kalanaur police station. In the complaint, one of accused and Rajinder Vohra had maintained that he lost the cheque book before the disputed cheque of Rs 85 lakh was issued.

On the complaint of Khushal Vohra, the SSP ordered the SP to probe the matter.

In the inquiry Prem Kumar, son of Sita Devi, a partner in the firm, admitted before the police that they had bribed the accused cop. A case has now been registered against Baljit Singh, Sita Devi, partner of the firm, Rajinder Vohra, brother of the complainant, and Prem Kumar, son of Sita Devi.

Mr Khushal Vohra, while talking to The Tribune, alleged that the record in the case was not only tampered with in the Kalanaur police station but also in the office of SSP Gurdaspur. The details of all complaints registered at police stations are sent to the SSP office. In this case the old record regarding information to the SSP office was tampered and fake complaint was entered into it. An inquiry should be held into officials of the SSP office, who allegedly connived with the accused in the case, he said.


1 beaten to death: 12 booked
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 11
Twelve persons have been booked for allegedly beating to death Mohinder Soni of Parlika village in neighbouring Sriganganagar, official sources said today.

According to information available with the police control room, the victim was attacked yesterday while he was returning from his fields. He was beaten with lathis, spade, axe and other sharp-edged weapons. The assailants reportedly alleged that Mohinder had developed illicit relations with the wife of one of them. Believing that their target was dead, they dragged him to the farmhouse, owned by Mr Bhagat Singh on the outskirts of the village and fled.

The police learnt about the incident after four hours and got Mohinder admitted to a nearby hospital. As his condition deteriorated at night, he was referred to the District Hospital but succumbed to his injuries on the way near Thadladka village. The police, however, recorded his statement before he died. A case was registered under Sections 341, 323, 147, 149, 447 of the IPC and various sections of the Arms Act.

Those identified in the FIR included Rameshwar Lal, Sadhu Ram, Rakesh Kumar, Bhagwana Ram, Dharam Pal and Daulat Ram. An investigation officer said three criminal cases had earlier been registered against Mohinder Soni for his involvement in different criminal cases.


Dealer held for ‘illegally’ selling spirit
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 11
In connection with the death of four persons allegedly due to consumption of spirit on March 8 and 9 in Dhebar Nagar here, the local police today arrested a spirit dealer, Amarjit Singh, resident of Ranjit Basti, Patiala Gate, on the charge of selling spirit illegally to the poor and addict people. His wife Jaspreet Kaur has already been arrested in this case last night.

Addressing a press conference here, SSP Harinder Singh Chahal said during investigations it was found that the accused were involved in the illegal sale of spirit to the labourers and poor persons after making fake entries in the stock register.

Mr Chahal said the police had also checked the stock registers of other spirit dealers and in some cases, it seemed that the entries were fake. He said he had written a letter to the Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC) for strict checking to curb the illegal sale of spirit.

The SSP also clarified that four persons, namely Naresh Kumar, Pappu, Kaka and Darshan Kumar, had died due to consumption of spirit while two persons had died of other diseases. He said the viscera of Naresh and Pappu had been sent for chemical examination as they had died in the Civil Hospital.


Woman commits suicide

Hoshiarpur, March 11
A case of suicide by a housewife on account of her alleged regular beating by her drunkard husband was reported in the city police station here yesterday.

According to the police sources, Harbhajan Lal, son of Bhagat Singh of Salwara, stated in his complaint that his daughter Kiran Bala, alias Aarti, was married with Varinder Singh, son of Roop Lal of Kamalpur locality, about nine years ago.

He alleged that Varinder was a drunkard and used to beat his daughter. After a thrashing incident on Thursday, Kiran committed suicide after consuming some poisonous substance, he alleged.

A case under Sections 306 and 34 of the IPC against Varinder and his mother Jaswant Kaur has been registered. — OC


Youth hangs self from ceiling fan
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 11
A youth committed suicide by allegedly hanging himself from a ceiling fan at Balongi village last night.

According to the police, Jeevan Bhardwaj allegedly took the extreme step a little past midnight when everybody in the house was sleeping. He moved out of his bedroom and bolted the other rooms from outside before hanging himself from a fan in the verandah of the house.

It was reported that the deceased was under mental stress. He had got married about six months ago.

The police has initiated proceedings under Section 174 of the CrPC in this regard.


3 booked for abandoning newborn
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 11
The police today booked three persons for abandoning a newborn in a private nursing home here.

The mother of the baby girl is said to have escaped from the nursing home after a day of her delivery along with other members of her family.

The matter came to light only when a nurse of the nursing home handed over the abandoned girl to a couple, Dilwagh Singh and Malkha, who live in Ward No.10 here.

The SHO, City, Mr Manvir Singh, said a case against the mother of the abandoned girl and two others had been registered.


Annual function of CMTR held
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 11
The Centre for Management Training and Research (CMTR) organised its 7th annual prize distribution function here today.

Dr S.K. Salwan, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Technical University (PTU), was the chief guest. The function started with the lighting of the lamp by Dr Salwan, which was followed by Saraswati Vandana performed by Volga, Swati Sharma, Yugeet Sharma, Gurpreet Singh Karan Singal, Dinesh, Simrata Gandoke and Shail Sharma.

Different items were performed by the students like the Radha dance, Rajasthani dance, Maharastrian dance, Western dance, English play etc. Punjabi boliyan, banagra, skits and parodies won great applause.

Dr Salwan congratulated all prize winners. He admired the hard work of the teachers who helped the students in bringing out their best not only in academics but also in developing their all-round personality.

Welcoming the chief guest, Mr Vipin K. Dewan, Director, CMTR, highlighted some of the recent achievements.

Later, prizes were distributed to the students for the excellence in academics, sports, quiz etc. Gurpreet Kaur (80 per cent got the Ist prize and Samridhi Dhawan (77.8 per cent got the 2nd prize in academics for overall 2003-2005 sessions. Samridhi Dhawan (83 per cent was Ist and Harmeet Kaur (80 per cent) was 2nd in the list of students of 4th semester of 2003-2004 for the session 2004-2006. Reetu Babbar (78 per cent) and Nidhi Gupta of the 2nd semester won the Ist and 2nd prizes, respectively. The team of Rinu, Rohitesh Pandey and Rajesh Dhingra bagged the 1st position, whereas the team of Bhanu Sondhi, Jagdeep Singh and Deepak Thakur got the 2nd prize in the quiz competition.

Jagdeep Singh of MBA (2nd semester topped the charts in boys’ single table tennis, Manish Chandel of (4th Semester) bagged the 2nd position. In the girls’ single, Preeti Chaudhary of MBA (4th semester and Sonia Pathak won the Ist and 2nd prizes, respectively.

The top slot of boys’ double was secured by Jagdeep Singh and Yogesh Sharma of MBA (2nd semester. Lalit Sharma and Tarun Saini of MBA (4th semester got the 2nd prize. Whereas Amandeep Arora and Priti Chaudhary of MBA (4th semester) topped the list of mixed doubles and Lalit Sharma and Sonia Pathak of MBA (4th semester won the 2nd prize.

Anjali Anand, Mandeep, Sheetal, Santosh Ruchika Garg and Inderpal Singh got prizes for 100 per cent attendance in the session.


Punjabi University to introduce
courses for UGC exam

Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 11
A meeting of the Punjabi University Syndicate was held here today under the chairmanship of Vice Chancellor S.S Boparai and attended, among others, by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA.

To promote talent and academic interest among students and teachers, the Syndicate approved the proposal of starting crash courses in various disciplines to help students clear the UGC examination. It was also decided to honour teachers who brought research grants to the university and those conferred upon with recognitions at the national and international levels for their contribution to knowledge.

To give encouragement to the research and teaching in the department of History and Punjab Historical Studies, Dr J.S. Grewal, renowned historian, was offered visiting professorship for two years (2006 to 2008). Dr Grewal has been Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University and Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, and also as chairman of the governing body of this institute. Dr Grewal is at present a life Fellow of university.

The Syndicate also gave approval to the establishment of the Centre for Guru Nanak Studies in the Department of Religious Studies and it was disclosed that the UGC had given Rs 8 lakh for its establishment.

Taking cognisance of some serious lapses committed by checking assistants in answersheets, the Syndicate authorised the Chief Coordinator (Examinations) to decide the penalty in all such cases as per the nature of the lapse. This would reduce errors in the checking and counting of marks.


Punjab to promote rural tourism
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
A code of ethics, on international lines, will be developed in Punjab to minimise the negative social and environmental impact when tourism brings people of different nationalities and cultures in contact with each other. It will take into account measures that not only guard the environment but check unscrupulous and dishonest practices of travel sellers and assure hospitable reception and safety of the visitors.

This was stated today by Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Tourism, Punjab , at an interactive session , organised by the Department of Tourism Punjab government and ITFT (Institute of Tourism and Future Management Trends).

He said a core group of representatives from public and private sectors would be constituted which would review and monitor the progress of decisions taken at the interact session and what needed to be done to promote tourism in the state.

Mr Kang who was addressing travel agents, tour operators, hoteliers and others associated with airline industry from Punjab, called upon the private sector to come in a big way to develop tourism infrastructure in the state while the role of the government would be of a facilitator and a regulator.

He said two villages were being selected to promote rural tourism in the state which would provide authentic Indian experience and a thorough peep into the unique lifestyles of the people.

He said a Punjab Tourism Festival would also be organised coinciding with Lohri festivities to attract both international and domestic visitors. He said that Wagah and Attari would be developed as tourism zone besides setting up convention centres at Mohali, Ludhiana and Amritsar.

He also said a meeting with travel trade at Delhi would be organised shortly for working out special packages for Punjab .

Mr Kang released copy a of Vision Paper on “Innovative Strategies for Integrated Tourism Development in Punjab ” prepared by ITFT Chandigarh. The paper suggests building up “brand” of Punjab, providing attractive incentives to investors and entrepreneurs for developing tourism infrastructure related projects, developing quality human resource, tapping health and herbal tourism potential, working out short-term and long-term marketing strategies and inter- state tourism packages.

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