P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PM keen on opening Hussainiwala route: Dullo
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, is keen to get the Hussainiwala border opened for travel and trade between India and Pakistan. At present the trade between the two countries is allowed through the Wagah border in this part of the country.

The issue of opening the Hussainiwala border was taken up with the Prime Minister by Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC). On return from Delhi, Mr Dullo told The Tribune this evening that the Prime Minister had assured him that the issue of opening the Hussainiwala border would be given top priority.

Mr Dullo said with the opening of the Wagah border, the economy of the Ferozepore border belt would get a big boost. People of both countries would benefit from this new border route.

The PPCC President said he, along with Mr Parminder Singh and Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, both Punjab-based Congress leaders, met the Prime Minister to discuss various issues. Besides thanking the Prime Minister for giving Rs 100 crore to Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) for research, I requested him to gear up the work on the various projects announced for Punjab by the Union Government.

“The Prime Minister told me that he has set up a team of officers to regularly monitor all the projects announced by him for various states”, said Mr Dullo. The Prime Minister had also got released Rs 18 crore for setting up an air conditioned cargo facility at Raja Sansi Airport near Amritsar. That facility was being created for stocking vegetables for export purposes, said Mr Dullo.

The Congress leader said the Prime Minister had also told the authorities concerned to take up the work immediately to expand the Halwara air base to convert it into an international airport.” The Prime Minister is expected to visit Ludhiana in the second week of April”, said Mr Dullo. The PM is also to come to Amritsar on March 23 to flag off the bus to Nankana Sahib on March 24. The issue of beautification of Amritsar, especially the area around the Golden Temple complex, was also taken up with the PM.

The other important issue taken up with the Prime Minister was compensation and jobs for the dependents of those killed in terrorist violence in Punjab in the 80s and 90s. “ I have urged the Prime Minister to give compensation to the victims of terrorist violence on the pattern of victims of anti-Sikh riots”.

There were 26,000 families in Punjab which were hit by terrorist violence in Punjab. And most of them were from poor families such as small shop keepers, political activists, hawkers, media persons and migrant labourers. Such families need financial and other support from the state Government because they were virtually ruined during the violent era in the state. “The PM told me that he is already doing something worthwhile for putting the families, who suffered during the terrorist violence, back on their feet”, said Mr Dullo.

The PPCC President said the Bill to categorise Rai-Sikhs, who have a substantial population in the border districts of Punjab, as Scheduled Castes would be brought in the current session of Parliament.


Trade bias in Punjab only till 2007: minister
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 18
Punjab would no longer face discrimination in industrial development and tax concessions extended to its neighbouring states would not be retained beyond 2007, stated Union Minister of State for Industry Ashwani Kumar while interacting with mediapersons here today.

The minister disclosed that he had a meeting with Mr Ratan Tata. He had urged Mr Tata to set up a big industrial unit in Punjab.

On furthering Indo-Pak trade through the Wagah border, he said it was based on the principle of reciprocity and it was imperative for Pakistan to adopt a flexible approach to promote trade through the border. Though they were importing certain items allowed by Pakistan, the government intended to expand areas of trade with it.

He said they would give a major thrust to horticulture and food and fruit processing zones would come up in the cities from where exports were feasible. He said the special economic zones (SEZs) planned in the state would also have specified areas for processing and agro-based industry.

When asked as to how Haryana was making rapid strides in setting up SEZs while Punjab was still grappling to come up with its first SEZ, he said Haryana was cashing in on its geographical situation, while Punjab didn't have the same advantage. He said being close to the national Capital was a big plus for Haryana.

About Punjab, he said SEZs would come up in the cities having good rail and road connectivity. On being asked as to how a state with a gloomy power scenario would attract industrialists, he said the situation would improve and revealed that Rural Electrification Corporation had given a grant of Rs 160 crore to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) for the ongoing expansion work at the Lehra Mohabbat power plant.

Dr Ashwani Kumar said he planned to hold a series of discussions with various industry associations from the state to get first hand information on the prevailing state of affairs. He said he would meet industry associations from border areas of the state on March 21 in the first phase of discussion. He would then call of meeting of industry officials from the state as well as the Centre, in which demands and suggestions from these associations would be discussed.

Terming the growth under the previous NDA regime as "jobless growth", he said employment generation was the top priority of the UPA government and the country had witnessed "growth with jobs" under it.

He termed the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme as the "biggest social welfare scheme" that would benefit lakhs of unemployed youth. He said the country had witnessed an unprecedented 8.1 per cent GDP growth under the UPA government.

Earlier, PPCC member Mohan Lal Sharma felicitated the minister at a function held in Mohan Farms. Congress leaders KK Aggarwal, Anil Bhola and Sewa Singh were also present on the occasion.


SGPC plea to PM on kirpans
Our Correspondent

Amritsar March 18
Mr Avtar Singh, President, SGPC, urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to convince the US government to allow Sikh students to attend classes with their kirpans.

He requested the Prime Minister to use his good offices in convincing US authorities about the matter. He quoted the judgment of Canada’s Supreme Court that ruled kirpan was an article of Sikh faith and not a dagger.

The President opined it was a moral obligation of the government to educate the world about the fundamentals of the Sikh religion.

In another letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Avtar Singh condemned the decision of the education department of the Sindh province of Pakistan for demolishing the gurdwara of Ratan Tala, Karachi. He said a word from his government to its counterpart in Pakistan would lend a substantial support.


Sikhs part of Hindus: Josh
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 18
Even as Mr Harcharan Singh Josh, newly appointed member of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), today kicked off a controversy by describing Sikhs as part and parcel of Hindus, the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, the SGPC President, Mr Avtar Singh, and Mr Tarlochan Singh, former Chairman of the NCM, have deplored his statement.

They said Akal Takht and the SGPC had already acknowledged that the Sikhs enjoyed a ''distinct and separate'' identity and Mr Josh had no right to question the same.

Though Mr Josh had breakfast with Jathedar Vedanti at his residence here today and held a marathon meeting with the SGPC chief, both have announced that they will not hold any more meeting with him (Mr Josh) till he withdrew his controversial statement.

Mr Josh had stated that it was only a turban that distinguished a Sikh from a Hindu. He claimed that the Sikhs came from the same 'Hindu culture' and they should admit this fact gracefully. ''Guru Gobind Singh sacrificed for whom?'' he asked.

He said the Sikhs should not deny the facts that they were baptised to protect the Hindus - their brethren -from the Mughal tyranny.

He, however, advocated for a separate Anand Karaj Act for the Sikhs. He also assured that the NCM would endeavour to bring back the 'blacklisted' Sikh youths who wanted to join the mainstream of the country.

Earlier, the Chief Khalsa Diwan (CKD) honoured Mr Josh on his appointment as member of the NCM. Mr Charnjit Singh Chadha, president of the CKD, and other members of the organisation were present on this occasion.

The SGPC chief said Mr Josh was nominated being member of the Sikh community and hence his "irresponsible statement" amounted to his disqualification. He said Mr Josh's statement showed that he wanted to watch the interests of the majority community instead of the minority.

Peeved at the controversy, Mr Tarlochan Singh, former Chairman of the NCM, said Mr Josh must understand that the Sikhs had a separate religion and identity. He said during his stint as Chairman of the NMC, he had arranged written statements from Mr K. Sudarhsan, RSS chief, and Mr Ashok Singhal, VHP leader, that Sikhs enjoyed a separate identity. He said he had now moved the Lok Sabha to amend Article 25 of the Indian Constitution that equated Sikhs with Hindus.

Mr Josh has had stint as general secretary of the Indian Youth Congress and was considered a confidant of Sanjay, younger son of Ms Indira Gandhi. To a pointed question, Mr Josh admitted his Congress background and said that at one time he cropped differences with Sanjay Gandhi and joined the Congress group led by Mr Swarn Singh, the then Foreign Minister. 


Sidhu in a fix on corruption query
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 18
BJP MP Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu found himself in a tight spot when mediapersons fired a volley of questions on him regarding Ravi Sidhu case and cash-for-query scam that saw involvement of six BJP MPs while he was leveling charges of corruption against the Congress government at a press conference here last night.

Mr Sidhu came out with evasive replies on the issue before switching over to other topics. He alleged that liquor mafia, land mafia and industry mafia were making quick buck in the state. He accused the government of creating a false propaganda on the rise in land prices and attributed the increase to activities of mafia.

"It isn't a sign of progress as the government is projecting it. On the contrary, it has made difficult for a common man to buy a small piece of land in any of the cities in Punjab," he averred.

He alleged that the farmers were being ignored, which had dealt a severe blow to the economy of "once-prosperous state". He said wheat and cane farmers were being denied remunerative prices of their agriculture produce and there was an urgent need for an increase in their MSP.

He stressed on the need to open visa centres in Lahore and Amritsar for facilitating smooth journey for pilgrims to Nankana Sahib. "A luxury bus has little meaning when an individual has to travel hundreds of miles for procuring visa before boarding it," he added.

Resenting fiscal concessions to Punjab's neighbouring states, he said there should be a uniform policy for all northern states on such matter. He again failed to give a satisfactory reply when reminded that the concessions were extended by the BJP-led NDA government.

Mr Sidhu said while Haryana had set up 9 special economic zones in quick succession, the establishment of SEZ in Amritsar was still hanging fire. He said each SEZ could generate employment opportunities for 75,000 youths.

On the row surrounding Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, he alleged that the government's intention to declare it as a public sector undertaking was aimed at privatizing it. He said the RCF was producing 1,425 coaches per annum, as compared to 1,200 by a much-bigger coach factory in Chennai.

Lamenting trade scenario at Wagah, he said 90 trucks having goods worth Rs 50 crore were stranded at the border for last three months and their drivers had fled away.

On Sarbjeet issue, he said the government should strongly take up his matter as well as that of war heroes languishing in Pakistani jails for the past many years.


INA hero cremated with state honours
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 18
Lieutenant Lakha Singh of the Indian National Army (INA) was cremated with full state honours at his native village on Sriganganagar-Padampur road yesterday. The eighty years old stalwart died on Thursday after a protracted illness.

District Collector Kunji Lal Meena laid a wreath on behalf of the state government. Others who paid floral tributes included IPS Santosh Chalke; MLA Radhey Shyam former; former president, Municipal Council, Jagdish Jandu and former chairman, Improvement Trust, Raj Kumar Gaur . A police contingent fired in the air and reversed the arms to pay salute to the former hero of the freedom struggle as the flower bedecked van carrying his body reached the cremation ground.

Traditionally dressed Panj Pyare performed 'ardas' on behalf of Gurdwara Baba Deep Singh. Mr Tejinder Pal Singh Timma, general secretary of the gurdwara managing committee said a prayer meeting would be held in the gurdwara complex on Sunday.


Akali workers clash, 8 hurt
Chander Parkash
Tribune News service

Samana (Patiala), March 18
At least eight activists of SAD (Badal) belonging to two different factions each led by Akali MLA Mr Nirmal Singh Shatrana and former Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh were injured after they pelted stones and clashed with each other in this city today.

Three were admitted to local civil hospital while the whereabouts of the rest could not be ascertained by the police. The local police team led by Mr Surinder Sharma, Station House Officer (SHO), city police station, intervened and disengaged the clashing workers.

The clash took place when a section of Akali workers having loyalty with Mr Shatrana allegedly tried to gherao Capt Kanwaljit Singh by showing him black flags to lodge their protest against the holding a youth awareness rally by him without taking Mr Shatrana into confidence.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who addressed a youth awareness rally in Badsahpur town falling in the Shatrana assembly segment, was accompanied by hundreds of his supporter from Patiala city to the venue of the function. On the way, a section of Akali workers owing allegiance to Mr Shatrana were standing on a canal bridge with black flags to gherao Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

When Capt Kanwaljit Singh entered the city, he came to know about the situation and changed his route to reach Badsahpur. However, Akali workers of both the factions came in front of each other in this city and started pelting stones on each other. They also exchanged lathi blows and kept on fighting for about 20 minutes before being disengaged by the police.

Mr Surinder Sharma, SHO, said that those, who had been getting treatment in the local civil hospital, had been identified as Labh Singh Karnail Singh and Pargat Singh. Labh Singh had suffered serious ear injury. The three injured persons were responding to treatment but they had not made any statement before the police.

He said that a case in this connection would be registered after a statement is made. About four workers owing allegiance to Capt Kanwaljit Singh were also injured.

While talking to this correspondent on phone, Mr Shatrana said that supporters of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, which was acting as advance party for his cavalcade attacked the Akali workers who were trying to hold a demonstration peacefully against Capt Kanwaljit Singh. The workers were trying to show their resentment as he was ignored by Capt Kanwaljit Singh when he decided to hold the rally at Badsahpur.

He said Capt Kanwaljit Singh had also violated the norms laid down by the party's political affairs committee (PAC) in which it was categorically stated that no rally would be held by any leader in any area without taking the MLA of that area into confidence.

On the other hand, the supporters of Capt Kanwaljit Singh alleged that they were attacked by supporters of Mr Shatrana when they were going to the venue of the function.

Meanwhile, Capt Kanwaljit Singh while addressing the rally, alleged that the Congress government led by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had failed on all fronts and could not implement its poll promises in the past four years.

He alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh had harassed the people and urged the youths and Akali workers to work hard to oust the Congress from power from Punjab.


PSEB's coal mine project commissioned
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 18
PSEB Chairman Y.S. Ratra has claimed that the captive coal mine project of the board, which is a joint venture with Eastern Minerals Trading Agency, has turned into reality with the first rake from the coal mine rolling into the Guru Nanak Thermal plant Bathinda on March 15.

Mr Ratra said the project, which is the second of its kind in the country, was situated in Jharkhand and had total coal reserves of around 407 million tonnes. He added that the PSEB had been allotted a coal mine block for its captive use as per the policy of the Union Government to allocate such projects to end users having their own thermal power projects.

He added that the entire cost of the project would be borne by the joint venture partner who was also responsible for delivering coal at PSEB thermal stations.

Any loss in transit or theft was also the responsibility of the partner.

With the commissioning of the project, the PSEB would now get 3 million tonnes of coal per annum to feed its thermal projects for the next 30 years at a discounted price due to which the board would save Rs 50 crore over the next three decades.

Mr Ratra also disclosed that 30 per cent of the total coal requirement of the board's existing thermal plants would be met once this project run into full swing which would reduce the burden of Coal India.


Faulty sewerage damages houses
Our Correspondent

A view of the damaged houses in Verka, near Amritsar.
A view of the damaged houses in Verka, near Amritsar. — Tribune photo by Rajiv Sharma

Verka (Amritsar), March 18
The foundations of a number of houses in the Verka constituency, near here, have sunk due to the alleged defective sewerage, resulting in severe damage to the houses, streets and narrow lanes of the area. The problem aggravated after the daylong rain in the city on March 14.

While 14-15 houses and shops were reportedly heavily damaged, about 30 houses were moderately damaged, with cracks appearing on walls. A sense of insecurity and fear prevails amongst residents as the damaged houses can fall any time.

The residence of Mangat Ram, who had recently renovated his house, suffered the maximum destruction as half of the house sunk. Mr Satish Salwan and his father Avinash Chander Salwan, who have shops near the house of Mangat Ram, while detailing the incident said within a few minutes the floors of many houses sunk while huge cracks appeared on the walls. People come out of their residences for safety.

The residents were agitated after the incident. The historic area has been neglected by consecutive governments, as there was nothing to show in the name of development. The streets and narrow lanes of the area were constructed with bricks while the sewerage was in a pathetic condition. The residents of the area had written to Municipal Corporation and other authorities concerned a number of times, but in vain.

Mr Rajkumar Verka, Parliamentary Secretary for Education, won from this constituency but he had done nothing for the development of the area, alleged residents.

Mr Sunil Datti, Mayor, visited the area along with other officials of the corporation to take first hand information. He asked them to prepare a list of the houses, which were damaged in this incident.


Constables recruitment tests from March 20
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 18
The physical test for the recruitment of Constables for India Reserve Battalion and Punjab Armed Police will commence from March 20 at Parade Ground. Commando Complex, Rajpura Road, Bahadurgarh, Patiala.

Mr R.N Dhoke, Commandant 36th Battalion, PAP, Patiala Zone, said in a press note issued here today that physical test for the candidates of district Ropar would take place from March 20 to 22, for police district Jagraon on March 23 and 24, for district Ludhiana on March 25 and 27 and for police district Khanna on March 28 and 29.

The admission cards for the eligible candidates have already been dispatched. The candidates who fail to get the admission cards in time may contact the office of Commandant, 36th Bn, PAP, Bahadurgarh, Patiala.


Badal appears in defamation case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh , March 18
Former Punjab Chief Minister and SAD President, Parkash Singh Badal, today appeared before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Ms Neerja Kalson, in a defamation suit filed by him against the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

Through the civil suit filed in August, 2002, Mr Badal had accused the Capt for spreading and publishing false reports about his assets and properties. Mr Badal had also sought damages to the tune of Rs 5 crore through the civil suit.

While Capt Amarinder Singh was today granted exemption from personal appearance, Mr Badal was cross-examined by defence counsel for over two hours. Mr Badal had also sought exemption from personnel appearance in the past.

During the cross examination the defence counsel asked Mr Badal whether there was corruption during his time. He said it had been there since the British rule and it increased during the Congress regime. Mr Badal stated that the bureaucracy was taking money by way of commission. On being asked about any case of corruption during his tenure, he replied in the negative. But when he was asked about former PPSC Chairman, Ravi Sidhu, Mr Badal said “ There was some problem between the Chairman and members of the PPSC, I had referred the matter to the then Chief Secretary”.

The civil suit for damages is separate from the criminal complaints against the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, by Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Badal and local lawyer, Mr N.S. Minhas.


Many cases decided, says Tribunal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
The Debt Recovery Tribunal, Chandigarh, has, during the last one year, disposed of 188 original applications, seven scrutinisation applications, 24 miscellaneous applications, 14 execution applications, 590 interlocutory applications and 12 appeals.

In response to the news-item headlined ‘No cases decided by Debt Recovery Tribunal since January 2005’, published in these columns on March 6, Mr D.K. Khanna, Registrar, DRT, claimed that the figures relating to decided and pending cases as mentioned in the news-item are wrong and fabricated.

In a communiqué, Mr Khanna claimed that over 2700 cases have been decided by the DRT since 2000 against just 110 as reported.

He also claimed that over Rs 112 crore has been recovered by execution of recovery certificates from January to December 2005.


PAU mela for kandi farmers draws crowds
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 18
Thousands of farmers from Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur, Ropar, and Gurdaspur districts and adjoining Himachal Pardesh thronged the one- day Kisan mela organised by Punjab Agriculture University on the theme of ‘Save water, save Punjab’ at Ballowal Saunkhari, about 30 km from here, yesterday.

Ms Supinder Kaur Cheema, member, Board of Management, PAU, while inaugurating the mela, exhorted farm women to involve themselves in various farm operations by adopting the latest technology. Appreciating the role of PAU, Ms Cheema called upon farmers belonging to the kandi area to get training from PAU for adoption of scientific agriculture with a view to making agriculture a lucrative occupation.


‘Bride-for-a-day’ scandal: 2 suspended
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 18
Two cops, whose names were figured during the interrogation of the kingpin of the “bride-for-a-day” gang, has been suspended by the Majitha police. The SP (D), Mr S.K. Agnihotri, has been asked to conduct a probe in this regard.

Baldev Singh, the kingpin, and Inder, one of the accused girls, had named Sukhdev Singh and Dilbagh Singh, SHO and former Additional SHO, respectively, of the Jhander police station, as accused. The police had recorded the conversation between Sukhdev Singh and Inder.

Mr Agnihotri said Inder and Sheetal had duped a number of bachelors. The “brides” used to stay with their “husbands” for a few days and then disappeared with cash and ornaments.


Bakhshi elected MC vice-chief
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, March 18
The election for the post of vice- president of the local Municipal Council was held here last evening. Tight security arrangements were made by the local police for these elections.

Mohammad Saleem Bakhshi of the ruling Congress was elected vice- president by show of hands. He got 18 votes out of a total of 27 votes. His opponent, Mr Abdul Sattar Kala, got nine votes.

The nine councillors of the Opposition raised objection, saying the election was illegal as the time of the election was changed from 11am to 5:30 pm without citing any reason.


Husband strangulates wife
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, March 18
Ravinder Kumar, a street vendor allegedly strangulated his wife Nisha Kumari to death at their residence in village Ghiala today.

The sources told that Ravinder Kumar was an alcoholic. He often quarreled with his wife. The sarpanch of the village had helped the couple to reach a compromise.

Yesterday night, the accused quarreled with his wife, after which he allegedly strangulated her to death and fled from the spot.

The incident was first reported to the neighbours by the two minor children of the couple. The police has registered a case under Section 302 of the IPC against the accused.


Peon booked for rape bid on child
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 18
Close on the heels of incidences of rape of girl students by their teachers in the neighbouring Haryana, a shocking incident of a government middle school peon allegedly attempting rape on a Class IV student has come to light at Balahar Mehma village, near here.

Angry village residents today locked the school and protested on the issue, while the school staff also flayed the incident.

Sources said the accused, Dasaudha Singh, had called a Class IV student to a room for preparing tea for the school staff yesterday.

When the peon allegedly tried to sexually exploit her, she started wailing and rushed out of the room. She narrated the incident to the staff and later to her family members who raised the issue with the village panchayat.

Sarpanch Jagtar Singh told that the school staff and the panchayat then lodged a complaint with the police in this connection. He said they would also report the incident to the Education Department. The Nehiawala police has registered a case against the peon. The accused is at large.


Vigilance Inspector held on graft charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
A Vigilance Bureau Inspector Surjit Singh, who was posted at Ropar, was arrested today on a charge of accepting Rs 5,000 as bribe from Mr Kesar Singh, who is posted as a clerk in the Municipal Council at Mohali.

It is, perhaps, for the first time that a senior officer posted in the bureau has been arrested.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP, who is In charge of the Patiala Range of the bureau, told The Tribune that a police party led by the DSP, Mr Jaspal Singh, arrested Surjit Singh from his residence at Ropar. A case had been registered at the Central Vigilance police station at Mohali.

Mr Bhullar said Surjit Singh had called Mr Kesar Singh to his residence at Ropar. A complaint had been made against Mr Kesar Singh by Mr Kulbir Singh.

Mr Bhullar said that Surjit Singh had told Mr Kesar Singh that an inquiry ordered against him on the basis of the complaint would be closed if he gave Rs 5,000 to him.

Mr Kesar Singh had been given the task of getting an encroachment removed from municipal land at Mohali. During an anti-encroachment drive, he had got a dhaba of Mr Kulbir Singh removed from near the office of the Punjab School Education Board. That, perhaps, prompted Mr Kulbir Singh to make a complaint against Mr Kesar Singh to the bureau and the officers concerned. However, later Mr Kulbir Singh had given a statement that he made the complaint because of a misunderstanding, said Mr Bhullar.

“I have also asked the police officials concerned to search the private residence of Surjit Singh in Amritsar,” said Mr Bhullar.


Woman held in murder case
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 18
Gurpreet Kaur (25), wife of Jangir Singh (45), has been arrested by the police for alleged involvement in killing Manjit Singh, alias Titu (24), son of Lakhwinder Singh, at Chunawadh in Sriganganagar area, the police control room said yesterday.

Sources said that blood- soaked body of Manjit Singh was found on Thursday morning near his house. The police traced blood spots to the neighbouring house of Jangir Singh, who was away to participate in a religious congregation at Dera Badbhag Singh in Punjab.

Gurpreet Kaur reportedly said during interrogation that she had ties with Gaura Singh, a history- sheeter. He was visiting her when Manjit Singh also arrived there. Gaura Singh, taking exception to his arrival, attacked Manjit with a sharpedged weapon. She too hit him using a long knife.

The victim left her house with deep injuries but fell in the street and succumbed to his injuries past midnight.


Councillor, brother held for assault
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 18
The Barnala police has booked Mr Karamjit Singh Bitta, Municipal Councillor, Barnala, his brother Mithu Singh, Kesar Singh Jaggal, Sonu Pandit and Jit Singh in an assault case under Sections 392,323,506,148 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code, and the Arms Act at the Kotwali police station

Mr G.Nageshwara Rao, SSP, dsaid these five persons were booked following a complaint by Mr Rajesh Kumar who alleged that they had thrashed him at a Ramlila Ground government lottery shop here and snatched cash from him.

Mr Rao further informed that Mr Balwinderpal Singh of Bhadaur had complained to the Bhadaur police that Rs 1.15 lakh had been stolen from the front seat of his Maruti car.

The SSP further revealed that 100 kg of lahan was seized from Gian Singh.


One killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Batala, March 18
A car was hit by a Tata Sumo today near village Kandila on Batala-Srihargobindpur road killing Tarsem Singh, resident of Yadhpur Sekhwan village on the spot and seriously injuring his wife Manjit Kaur, his sister Balwinder Kaur and his two sons.

The dead body of the deceased has been taken into custody and the injured have been admitted to private hospitals in Batala and Amritsar.

The Udhamwal police of Ghuman police station have arrested the driver of the Tata Sumo.

Abohar: One person was killed and four were injured in a car-trailer collision near Morjand village last evening. The victims were returning from Sriganganagar in the car. The injured, Mr Ashok Setia, Mr Anil Setia, Ms Ravitash and Ms Sudesh Rassewatt, were admitted to the Sriganganagar Civil Hospital. Mr Anil Setia died this morning.


Silver jubilee conference at Rajindra Hospital
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 18
The North Zone Indian Orthopaedic Association (NZIOA) started its three-day silver jubilee celebrations at the local Rajindra Hospital late last evening.

A silver jubilee conference is being organised by the Department of Orthopaedics, Government Medical College and Rajindra Hospital, as part of the celebrations.

A live surgery workshop was conducted yesterday wherein arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery) was performed.

A total knee arthroplasty was done by Dr J. Rai, Director, Orthopedics Fortis Hospital, Mohali and, a total hip replacement surgery was done by Dr P.S. Maini from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi.

The conference was supervised by Prof A.S. Sidhu, Head, Department of Orthopaedics.

The conference was formally inaugurated by Dr Ravinder Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot.

Dr S.S. Sangwan, vice-president, IOA, and Director-Principal, PGIMS, Rothak, Dr G.R. Mir from Srinagar, Dr Surinder Singh, vice-Principal, GMC, Patiala, and Dr S.S. Gill, Head, Orthopedics, PGIMER Chandigarh, were also present.

The conference was also attended by eminent orthopaedic surgeons from across the country like Dr Surya Bhan, Head of Department, AIIMS, New Delhi, Dr S.S. Yadav, Dr Hardas Singh, Dr Anil Dhall, Dr R.L. Mittal, Dr Mukand Lal, Dr Ravinder Singh, etc.


Teacher in dock for ‘harassing’ girl
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 18
A 14-year-old girl, appearing as a private candidate for the Class VIII examination at the Senior Secondary School in Salempur village here, was allegedly harassed by a teacher on the pretext of favouring her with more marks.

The case came to light after the girl's parents and the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) protested against the teacher's misbehavior and sought a strong action against him from the Principal.

The incident took place on March 16 when the girl came to the school to appear for the practical exam. The teacher then allegedly called her to his room and used abusive language.

It was alleged that teacher had called the girl in connection with the Physical Education practicals she had appeared for on March 14.

After the teacher's misbehavior, the girl burst into tears and called her parents.

Before the girl's parents and PTA members could reach the school , the teacher managed to flee.

Later, the teacher submitted a written apology to the Principal for using abusive language saying he had no intention to harass the girl.

He also agreed to the PTA demand that he would seek transfer from the school.

The teacher has been on a medical leave since and not available for comments.

The Principal of the school, Mr Malkiat Singh, has sent a report about the incident to the Deputy Education Officer (DEO) (Secondary), Ropar, Mr Piara Singh, for further action.

The Principal, in his report, had given details of allegations levelled by the girl and also an apology sent by the teacher.

The members of village panchayat also took up the issue with the DEO (Secondary).

When contacted, the DEO (Secondary) said he had received the complaint and would forward it to senior officials on Monday after recommending necessary action against the teacher.


Awareness of Punjabi identity a recent idea, says Prof Grewal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 18
“The articulation of regional identity was an old idea whereas the consciousness of Punjabi identity is a recent one,” said Prof J.S. Grewal, former Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, during the 38th session of a three-day annual Punjab history conference on “Social stratifications in Punjab: politico-cultural manifestations”.

The conference, organised by the Department of Punjab Historical Studies, Punjabi University, was inaugurated at the Senate Hall here today.

Lamenting that there was a dearth of authentic work on the history of ancient Punjab, he pleaded professional historians to come forward to produce quality work for better appreciation and understanding of the region.

Prof K.M. Shrimali, Department of History, Delhi University, who presided over the seminar, maintained that historians could not allow the historical discipline to degenerate to the extent that the distinction between myth and history was lost and false history became instrumental in promotion of political mythology.

Introducing the theme of the seminar, Prof Navtej Singh, Head of the Department, stated that the aim of the conference was to promote regional history, delving deep into the perceptions behind social stratifications and analysing its political and cultural manifestations.

Eminent historians form Pakistan and India participated in the conference.

Prof J.S. Grewal released the proceedings of the 37th edition of the conference.


College employee unions against transfer of funds
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 18
Employees’ unions of Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology today opposed the state government’s alleged move to transfer funds from the college to a new engineering college coming up at Lehragaga, constituency of Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

The unions that raised the protest voice regarding the matter include the GZSCET Teachers Association, the Engineering College Employees Union, the Technical Employees Union and the Class IV Government Employees Union. In a statement, these unions stated that their college was not in a position to part with funds as it needed the same for development.

They said funds were required to develop R&D facilities at the postgraduate level, to compete with growing private institutions in the field of engineering and technology, and upgrade infrastructure as per the demand of industry.

They said the college also needed funds for the payment of arrears of pay in respect of faculty joining after 1996 and for the faculty promoted under Career Advancement Scheme of the AICTE, which the government had been denying to pay since many years.

Moreover, the funds available with the college pertained mainly to the GPF and pension funds of employees. Since the government was not giving any financial support to the college for long it wasn’t appropriate on its part to seek hard-earned funds from it, they said.

They expressed apprehension that the move of the government would affect the college’s functioning which might lead to the closure of the institution.


Degrees conferred on 256 students
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 18
The Tamil Nadu Governor, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, conferred degrees on 256 postgraduates and graduates of SGGS Khalsa College, Mahilpur, 24 km from here, during the annual convocation today.

He called upon the students to work hard for achieving their aim and develop the right kind of spirit to go high in life. While highlighting the role of educational institutions and education, he said, “The purpose of real education is to initiate learning process that transforms students into good human beings with knowledge and value system. Educational institution has to build good human beings by removing all negative thoughts from their minds and to guide them for having a positive and forward looking thinking”.

Earlier, Dr S.S. Randhawa, Principal of the college, declared the annual convocation open and presented the students to the chief guest for conferring the degrees.

Mr D. K. Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, teaching faculty and students, leaders and social workers of the area were present.


Transform higher education: AICTE chief
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 18
“If India is to transform itself into a ‘knowledge society’ by 2020 and into a ‘creative society’ in the next two decades, the higher education system, particularly at the university level, needs to be radically transformed.”

This was stated by Professor Damodar Acharya, Chairman, All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), New Delhi, at the joint convocation of Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, presided over the convocation and gave degrees to more than 500 M.Tech, M.Sc, B.Tech and B.Sc (Hons School) students.

Professor Acharya said: “The higher education growth is the engine for development of the world economy where knowledge is power and creativity is an accelerator for development. The millennium belongs to Asian superpowers. The developed world is looking towards India and China for the supply of skilled manpower.”

About the employment scenario, he said by 2010 India would require 2.10 million graduates in IT and IT-related areas only.


Conference on computers & IT
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 18
A two-day national conference “NCCSIT -2006”, organised by the Department of Computer Science, Engineering and Information Technology, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, here was inaugurated by Dr SC Saxena , Director, Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala, here today. Dr JS Bhatia, Director CDAC, Mohali, was the guest of Honour on the inaugural function.

More than 78 papers would be presented by participants from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

Dr Saxena in his inaugural address said that faculty of technical institutes should focus on research activities along with academics.

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