P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM rules out extra water for Rajasthan
Varinder Singh and Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Nakodar/Samrala, March 22
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has ruled out releasing any extra water for Rajasthan.

He said the state required canal water for the last irrigation of wheat crop. The state had already released the fixed quota of water, which was due for the quarter till March 23 and the next instalment would be due after May 25, which would be released in routine.

The Chief Minister was talking to reporters in Samrala today on the sidelines of a mass marriage function organised by the Samaj Chetna Forum. Marriages of 63 couples belonging to poor families were solemnised on the occasion.

He said the same thing while addressing a gathering at Nakodar.

Reacting to the issue raised by Rajasthan MPs for the release of extra canal water in Parliament, the Chief Minister said two years ago when the state had extra water, it was released to Rajasthan for irrigating the crops. Now the state was in dire need of water for the last irrigation of wheat crop and sowing of cotton and kinnow orchards.

The Chief Minister said elaborate arrangements for the procurement of wheat had been made and it would start on April 1 in all mandis. He asserted that the wheat produce of the farmers would be purchased without delay.

Referring to the visit of Prince Charles of the UK to the state, the Chief Minster said the state was expecting to sign an MoU with the UK Government to promote organic agriculture in Punjab.

The Chief Minister sought to put at rest the speculation of early elections in the state. He said the Assembly elections would be held at the scheduled time.

Replying to a question about the suggestion of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Shamsher Singh Dullo that progress report cards of the legislators and ministers would be prepared prior to making recommendations for allotting them tickets, the Chief Minister said he agreed with Mr Dullo as the performance of everybody needed to be evaluated before fielding them for the elections.

Meanwhile, in Nakodar, the Chief Minister said one of the three national institutes of science, cleared by the Central Government, would be set up in Jalandhar, which, will also have three of the proposed six Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

Asserting that the priority of his government was to strengthen the state from economic point of view, the Chief Minister, who, was accompanied by Punjab ministers Amarjit Samra, Avtaar Henry, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Gurkanwal Kaur and Jalandhar MP Rana Gurjit Singh, said that an investment of Rs 57,000 crore had already come to Punjab. “From the pace of investment inflow, we expect that by the end of the year, Punjab will have an investment of Rs 1 lakh crore and we will be able to create 20 lakh jobs in the state,” said the Chief Minister.

Later, the Chief Minister laid the foundation stone of the building of Punjab Technical University (PTU) on Kapurthala Road in Kapurthala in the presence of the PTU Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.K. Salwan.


CM’s intervention sought on dispensaries
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 22
The Punjab State Health Service Joint Action Committee, comprising the PCMS Association and paramedic employee orgnisations, has sought the intervention of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on the issue of handing over rural dispensaries to zila parishads in the state.

Dr M.S.Randhawa, Dr D.S.Gill and Dr Manjit Singh, patron, president and general secretary of the committee, respectively, have urged the Chief Minister and the Health Minister to intervene and review the decision, which, they said, would do more harm than good to the public cause.

The committee said all categories of health employees had joined hands to fight against the state government’s move to hand over rural dispensaries in private hands on contract. A state-level joint action committee would coordinate protests to press the state government to review its decision, which they described as anti-poor, anti- people, anti-student and anti- employee.

The committee questioned the wisdom behind implementing the scheme at full steam without a trial through a pilot project to study its positive and negative impacts on rural health care, national health programmes and possible adverse affects on impartial exercise of some inherent medico-legal powers which rest with in-service doctors. The committee maintained that any wrong action could result in far- reaching adverse affects on the system of justice in the state.

Meanwhile, an emergency meeting of all teaching faculties of Government Ayurvedic College, Patiala, was held in the college here today. The move of the Punjab Government to register societies of all government-run medical, dental and ayurvedic colleges was the main issue discussed. It was condemned unanimously as it was a step towards the privatisation of the department, a press note said.

It added that it was the duty of the government to provide basic facilities to the people like education and health. “Our faculty strongly opposes this decision of the government as it is against the public interest. The Punjab Gvoernment Ayurvedic Teachers Association stands with the Punjab Government Medical and Dental Teachers Association,” said the press note.


Ajit Singh’s conditional consent to head confederation
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 22
Sant Ajit Singh Parivar Vichhora, a Sikh religious leader, has agreed to head the proposed confederation of rival Akali factions to challenge the Congress and the SAD (Badal) in Assembly elections, to be held in February next year, only if such leaders came on single platform.

Talking to The Tribune today, Sant Parivar Vichhora said that he could lead the organisations of various Akali factions and federations if they forged unity first.

Brainchild of Mr Rajdev Singh Khalsa, a former Member of Parliament and ex-acting Chief Parliamentary Board of the SAD, the proposed confederation of Sikh organisations might come into existence in a couple of months after drawing up common minimum programme. Mr Khalsa said that under the confederation all existing Akali factions would maintain their separate identity. It would be a challenge to the ruling Congress and the Badal Akali Dal if all factions reached consensus over the Panthic agenda.

Initiative to form a confederation was started in November last year by Mr Khalsa and it bore fruit when Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, President, SAD (Longowal) and, Mr Khalsa, Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, an SGPC member met Sant Parivar Vichhora to request him to lead the Akali factions. It was Sant Parivar Vichhora who had won the confidence of both Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, then SAD president and Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. After the assassination of Sant Longowal on August 20, 1985, Sant Parivar Vichhora took the command of Sikh Panth. The September 1985 Assembly elections were fought under his command and he was instrumental in the winning of 76 Akali MLAs. He was chairman of the five-member Committee to elect the Chief Minister following majority of the SAD. However, when the police entered the Golden Temple, Sant Parivar Vichhora had opposed the move and took the side of Mr Parkash Singh Badal who had revolted against the Barnala government.

While leaders of certain Akali factions have agreed to work under the command of Sant Parivar Vichhora, certain leaders of rival factions have maintained distance and reserved comments for the time being.


Clash over shifting of ‘bir’ leaves 20 injured
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Nihangs brandishing arms after the bloody clash at Balluana village in Bathinda on Wednesday.
Ready to fight: Nihangs brandishing arms after the bloody clash at Balluana village in Bathinda on Wednesday. — Photo by Kulbeer Beera

Baluana (Bathinda), March 22
Over 20 persons were injured, one of them seriously, in a violent clash that took place between villagers and the members of the SGPC task force from Takht Sri Damdama Sahib who were here to take along 'bir' installed at a village dera. The role of the police has come under cloud with both the parties accusing it of failing to check the situation from going out of hand.

Sources said the task force members led by Damdama Sahib Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh, who had received complaints of sacrilege, reached the village at about 10 am after informing the district administration of their move.

The 'bir' was kept at Dera Baba Balanath and a 'Sehaj Path' was on since last Saturday. The jathedar first talked to the dera chief who reportedly urged the villagers to let the task force take away the 'bir', but the villagers said they would not allow it to be shifted before the 'bhog' of 'path' scheduled for Sunday.

Sources said the jathedar and administration officials tried to reach a compromise, but to no avail. The jathedar then performed 'ardas' before asking the task force members to shift the 'bir'.

The villagers, in the meantime, had laid siege to the village and blocked roads with their tractor-trolleys. When the task force was taking along the 'bir' out of the village at about 3.15 pm the villagers pelted their vehicles with stones.

Sources said the task force swiftly shifted the 'bir' to another vehicle before retaliating to the villagers' attack. Firing also took place and about 25-30 rounds were fired.

Baluana Sarpanch Mr Jarnail Singh alleged that the task force members barged into their homes and thrashed them when they opposed their move to shift the 'bir'. He alleged that they didn't even spare elderly women and children and beat them up brutally. He alleged that the police also shot at a villager who got seriously injured.

On the other hand, Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh said they sat there for six hours and tried to make the villagers understand that a 'Sehaj Path' could be completed anywhere. He alleged that stubs of 'biri' and cigarette were lying around the area where the 'bir' was kept. He accused the police of failing to stop the villagers who were blocking roads and collecting stones to attack them. On the villagers' allegations, he said he could not rule it out, as some task force members might have retaliated to the villagers' onslaught.

Meanwhile, Sahara volunteers rushed 11 injured to the Civil Hospital, Bathinda, out of whom the condition of one was reported to be critical.

When contacted, the SSP, Mr Kapil Dev, said a police team was sent to the village soon after receiving the information of the task force reaching there. He said till the time they could mobilize force the talks between the two groups were terminated and the jathedar had left the village with the 'bir'. He denied the charge of any police firing on the villagers. The police had rounded up five persons in this connection and the situation was under control.

The DC, Mr Rahul Bhandari, said he had asked the Rampura Phul SDM, Mr KPS Mahi, to probe into the matter.

The police has registered a case against Mr Nandgarh, Mr Baljit Singh Daduwal and other unidentified persons in connection with the clash.


Company agrees to cut royalty on Bt seed
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 22
Monsento Seed Company, which provides technology to Indian companies to produce Bt cotton seed, has agreed to slash its royalty by Rs 350 per packet.

The Monsento representative today gave in writing to the Punjab Agriculture Department that in future the company would charge Rs 900 per packet as royalty from the Indian companies to which it had been providing technology, including the Bt gene, to prepare the Bt cotton seed. Till date it was charging Rs 1,250 per packet as royalty. In the retail market the Bt cotton seed was sold for Rs 1,600 per packet during the last cotton sowing season.

There are three major companies, including Mahyco, which have been using the Monsento technology to produce Bt cotton seed in the country.

The Director, Agriculture, Punjab, Mr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, said he had held discussions with various Indian companies, which were producing Bt cotton seed in the country, to cut the seed price in direct proportion to the reduction made in royalty by Monsento. " The seed-producing companies have sought some more time to make up their mind on this issue," said Mr Sidhu.

He said a decision on the issue was expected in a day or so. There were reports that the seed-producing companies were not ready to reduce the minimum retail price below Rs 1,375. However, Mr Sidhu wanted that farmers should not have to pay more than Rs 1,200 per packet while buying seed from the retail market in any case. " We are engaged in tough bargaining. Let us see what happens in the next two days,"said Mr Sidhu.


No protection for cops who killed for personal gains
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 22
Even as the Punjab Government is working out a scheme to save cops who are facing court cases for genuinely fighting against terrorism, it has been made clear to the Central Government that no sympathy or protection is being sought for cops, who could have resorted to killings or torture for personal gains.

A high-level team of the Punjab Police has already explained the stance of the government at a meeting with officials of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. It has been made clear that an independent analysis of all pending court cases should be carried out to judge the merit of each one of them separately.

These should be segregated in two clear categories. The first being court cases against officers and the constabulary, who fought terrorism. And while carrying out their duties killed someone, who was classified as a terrorist or was overtly helping militancy in those dark days. The second category should be of court cases against cops who killed or tortured people for personal gains.

It may be mentioned that the State Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, while talking to reporters at Phillaur yesterday, had said the government was in the process of finalising a proposal under which the police officers who used “out of the box” means to fight terrorism would be saved from prosecution.

Meanwhile, the Director-General of Police, Mr S.S. Virk, when asked about the details of the said proposal told The Tribune: “We are not seeking any blanket protection for our force. We hold no brief for anyone who is found to have killed people for an ulterior motive or to settle scores”. He also said it was wrong to label all such acts of the police, that may be genuine or in-genuine, as “extra -judicial” killings.

Also sources in the police said the government of India had been informed about protection against prosecution given to police and para-military forces in Punjab through a notification in 1983. Under this provision, granted under Section 45 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr PC) , no policemen could be arrested without the consent of the government. The MHA has also been told about this.


Holy City wears new look ahead of PM’s visit
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 22
Massive preparations are on in the city to welcome Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who will arrive here tomorrow on a two-day visit. The city has been spruced up with fresh coat of whitewash on all main roads as well as in the Civil Line areas.

The administration is not leaving anything to chance and is busy making elaborate security arrangements through all routs that would be used by the Prime Minister’s motorcade.

All encroachments on the major roads leading to the Circuit House, Golden Temple and Ranjit Avenue and on the Ajnala road has been cleared for the smooth flow of the traffic. More than 10,000 policemen have been deployed in and around the city to prevent any untoward incident and ensure hassle-free visit second by Dr Manmohan Singh after taking over as Prime Minister.

The police conducted a comprehensive dress rehearsal on the main routes to be used by the cavalcade. The traffic on the busy roads has been diverted to side roads and lanes. The city has been divided into eight security segments each to be personally monitored by an officer of the rank of the SSP.

According to the official schedule available here, the PM, accompanied by his wife, would arrive by special Air Force plane at Rajasansi International Airport at 9.50 pm on March 23 and would immediately drive to Circuit House for the night stay. Next morning he would pay obeisance at the Golden Temple and later visit Durgiana Temple.


PM unlikely to visit family members
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 22
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is unlikely to visit his family members on the Loharka road here during his visit to the home town tomorrow. However, the family members expect that Ms Gursharan Kaur, wife of the Prime Minister would make it in all probability.

Mr Surjit Singh Kohli, younger brother of the Prime Minister constructed his new villa on the Loharka road last year and is keen that at least his “bhabiji” should visit the house. Mr Kohli said that they did appreciate the security compulsions of the Prime Minister but had no regret in case he was unable to visit them.

The whole household of the Kohli family was brimming with joy as they were expecting Dr Manmohan Singh, popularly called “Daarji”, would be meeting them during his two-day visit to the holy city.

Bhavneet, a niece of the Prime Minister, said she wanted him to improve the education system in the country so that the young generation should be trained to lead the nation in every field and compete with the best in the world. She said the family was eagerly awaiting for a longer interaction to share all the news and happenings.

Mr Jasbir Singh Chatha, the brother-in-law of the Prime Minister, said although they were in touch with him on the phone regularly but his visit to the city would provide them an opportunity to discuss various family issues and the overall development of his home town.


Navjot Sidhu not invited to receive PM
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 22
The local BJP MP, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, will not be present to receive the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, who would be on a two-day visit to his constituency.

Talking on the phone, the Media Adviser of Mr Sidhu said the cricketer-turned-politician had not been formally invited by the Punjab Government to receive the Prime Minister and participate in any of the functions arranged for him, including the flagging off of the first Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service.


PM urged to waive loans taken to fight terror
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 22
The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, should waive loans taken by the Punjab Government to fight terrorism, besides the loans of small and marginal farmers during his proposed visit to the holy city for the inauguration of the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service on March 24.

This was stated by Dr Joginder Dyal, a CPI leader, while talking to The Tribune here today. He was here to interact with people whose kiosks or shops were forcibly removed by the Municipal Corporation after the Punjab and Haryana High Court orders in the Putlighar area recently.

He said the people of Punjab stood up to fight the menace of terrorism and paid a heavy price to maintain the unity and integrity of the country. The expenditure incurred to fight terrorism should be borne by the Central Government.

Various governments in New Delhi had given assurances that the entire amount of the expenditure would be waived but the state government was still repaying the loans.

Dr Dyal also criticised the government for importing wheat under the WTO pressure, which would further ruin the agro economy of the country and the farmers’ community in particular. He said the government must invest more in the agro sector to uplift the rural economy and give them a chance to become economically self-reliant.


PM not to open panorama, residents sore
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 22
Residents of the city as well as staff of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama are dejected that the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, will not inaugurate it during his forthcoming visit to the holy city.

The panorama was earlier scheduled to be inaugurated on March 8. It was completed in February but since it had not been inaugurated, it was out of bound for visitors.

Mr D. Pal Curator of the panorama, who is about to leave for his new posting next month, said it would be a satisfaction for him if it was inaugurated during his stay here.

The panaroma, depicting the life and great battles of the legendary Maharaja Ranjit Singh undertaken by the National Council of Science Museum (NCSM), Kolkata, includes the scene of the Maharaja's darbar, a replica of a rare picture adorning the walls of Lahore Fort. Similarly, the scenes of the famous battles of the Maharaja were based on historical portraits and facts, accessed from reliable primary sources.

Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister, laid the foundation stone of the ambitious project on November 18, 2001, at "New Amritsar" to mark the bicentenary of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The Punjab Government had denotified a part of the historic Ram Bagh of the Maharaja, to pave the way for the construction of a Rs 5-crore panorama in his memory. In the notification, the 20-kanal "protected" area was rendered "unprotected" which had raised many an eyebrow. 


Cut Nankana Sahib bus fare to Rs 11, says M.S. Gill

Chandigarh, March 22
The member of the Rajya Sabha from Punjab, Mr M.S. Gill, today welcomed the decision to start a regular bus service between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib. This was to be inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on March 24.

However, he said there was immediate need to slash the bus fare. The existing fare of Rs 1,100 per head was very high. Many of those who would be travelling in the bus would be small farmers and others from low-income groups. Rich people went to Pakistan by air. The fare should be brought down to Rs 11 per head. The Centre and the Punjab Government should contribute from their treasuries to make the journey for pilgrims affordable.

Mr Gill also said that the Union Government should declare Attari railway station and the Wagah border as land ports and allocate Rs 200 crore for the development of both areas. — TNS


Poachers made govt open hunting: Mann
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur March 22
The president of SAD (A) Amritsar, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today condemned the Punjab Government decision to open hunting of wild boars and bull blues in the state.

Mr Mann, who was on his way to Dalhouise, alleged that the government decision to open hunting has been prompted by poachers given place in wildlife advisory board. Many of the wildlife advisory board members have cases of poachers registered against them at one time or another.

They have pressurized the government to open hunting. The provision laid down in the notification issued for opening hunting has been laid in such a way that hunter lobby close to the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh can enjoy its hunting hobby.

"Posting people with poaching cases registered against them as wildlife advisory board members was just like posting Dracula to guard a blood bank," Mann alleged.

The nature of wildlife board is just advisory in nature. The members cannot draw any financial benefit out of it. However, the wildlife advisory board members were sent on a trip to South Africa to study pheasant farming. The amount spent on the foreign trip of the board members was enough to set up a farm in Punjab.

The SAD (A) would oppose hunting of wild animal. The workers of the party would ensure that the hunters are not allowed to kill animal illegally.

The excuse for allowing hunting in the state has been stated to be blowing population of wild animal. No scientific survey has been conducted to estimate the population of the animal. The numbers indicated in the survey conducted papers are over inflated. They have calculated that there were about 14000 wild boars in the state. Had that number of wild boars been present in the wild, one could have easily spotted them

However, the fact is that it is hard to find the animal in the wild. Moreover, in the notification it has stated that hunters can kill just male wild boars. It was strange that how would a hunter differentiate female wild boar from the male.

Besides, if more male wild boars are killed it would lead to catastrophe for the population, Mr Mann said.


Income tax returns go ‘missing’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 22
A number of complaints have been received of “untraceable” returns filed by income tax assesses here.

Some assessee, who approached The Tribune, today said they were aghast to find that the returns filed by them were lost when they went to claim their refund.

Officers concerned reportedly stated that their returns had not reached them despite the acknowledgements issued by the department.

The Punjab Employees Rights Protection and Welfare Union led by its general secretary, Mr B.R. Preenja, today called for immediate steps to ensure that returns were not 
misplaced or lost 
in transit.

The assesses were asked to file duplicate returns that caused harassment, loss of time and effort on part of assesses besides delay in receiving refund amounts amounting to thousands of rupees.


Mann seeks release of two party office-bearers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 22
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) headed by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann has demanded that the Punjab Governor and Administrator of Chandigarh, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), should intervene and allow the immediate release of Dilbag Singh and Ranjit Singh.

The two were arrested by the Chandigarh Police yesterday for their alleged involvement in the activities of Paramjit Singh Bheora of the Babbar Khalsa International.

Mr Mann said Dilbag Singh was the vice-president of the SAD (A) while Ranjit Singh was the vice-president of the youth wing of the SAD (A).

Arresting the two persons was a malicious action, Mr Mann said, adding that his party had never believed in armed struggle at any time as this was "counter-productive to achieving our ends".

He alleged that Dilbag Singh and Ranjit Singh were arrested from their homes in Ropar district and explosives planted on them.


Police ‘picks up’ NRI from residence
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 22
Mystery shrouds the alleged lifting of NRI Bahadur Singh (70) from his house at Thinda village in Hoshiarpur district by the Nawanshahr police yesterday morning.

Mr Gian Chand, Sarpanch of Thinda village, said on his mobile phone that a police party from Nawanshahr came to his house about 4 a.m. yesterday and inquired about Bahadur Singh who is living with his wife. All his children are living abroad.

The police party took him to the house of Bahadur Singh to know about his relations with militant Paramjit Singh Bheora, chief of the Babbar Khalsa terrorist outfit, who was arrested by the Delhi police on March 19. Later the police party took Bahadur Singh in its vehicle.

He could not make enquiry about the identification of policemen and could not note the number of their vehicles because of darkness. In the morning, he along with other villagers. went to the Nawanshahar police to know about Bahadur Singh. They were surprised when the police expressed its ignorance about the lifting of Bahadur Singh.

This correspondent contacted Mr Mander Singh, SP (H), to know about the lifting of Bahadur Singh, but he also showed his ignorance about him.


Role of Punjabis in Independence discussed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 22
A lecture on “Voyage of Kamagatamaru” was organised by the Department of History, Punjabi University, here today.

The lecture started with the welcome speech by Dr Jaspal Kaur, Head of the department. It was followed by the introduction of the chief guest by Dr D.S. Dhillon. Prof Hugh Johnston, Professor Emeritus in History, Simon Fraser University, B.C. Canada, was the chief guest.

Professor Fraser gave an explanation on the voyage of Kamagatamaru from a Canadian perspective and highlighted the participation of Indian diaspora in the freedom struggle.

Dr G.S. Kalkat, former Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, was the guest of honour. He highlighted the role played by the Punjabis, largely Sikhs, in the freedom struggle and also in making Punjab self-sufficient in foodgrain. He focussed on the crisis facing the Punjab economy and expressed concern over lowering of standards of rural education.

Dr Kalkat appreciated the task taken up by Mr S.S Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, in the field of rural education.

Mr Boparai, in his presidential remarks, established a link between the history as it was and the history as it is being made in Punjab. He appreciated the bold act of Prof Hugh Johnston for undertaking research on such a significant topic. The Vice-Chancellor also emphasised the important role played by the university in creating an awareness among the masses through theatre on the issues, such as drug addiction and female infanticide.

Dr Manjit Singh, Dean Research, Punjabi University, proposed a vote of thanks.


Zila bachao panel suspends stir
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 22
The Zila Bacho Sangharsh Committee today suspended its one-month-old agitation against the decision of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on according district status to Mohali.

The decision was taken after the assurance from the Chief Minister that Ropar would be compensated for by merging two more sub-divisions in it. Besides, he has also assured them that a Divisional Commissioner will also be appointed in the district headquarter and industrial units will be set up.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Industry and Commerce, Mr K.P.S Rana, along with the chairman of the committee, Mr R.S Parmar, and other members, had met the Chief Minister to apprise him of the loses being incurred by the Ropar district administration after separating Mohali from it.

Mr Rana said Mohali was accorded the district status keeping in view the industrial growth there.

The state would have been benefited from the mega projects being set up in Mohali. He said the Chief Minister had assured us to merge more subdivisions of other districts in Ropar.

Mr Parmar said the agitation had been suspended till March 30. If the government failed to keep its promise by that date, then they would revive the agitation, he added.


157 donate blood
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 22
As many as 157 persons donated blood at a blood donation camp organised at Abhipur, near here, today.

Those who donated blood included faculty members, staff and students of Indo-Global College of Engineering, Indo-Global College of Architecture and Indo-Global College of Education. A team of doctors headed by Dr Usha Rao from the Department of Transfusion Medicine, PGI, Chandigarh, conducted the camp.


SGPC chief presides over college budget meeting
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 22
Jathedar Avtar Singh Makkar, President, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), today presided over a budget meeting for 2006-07 of the Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Education Trust, which runs the BBSB Engineering College here.

All trustees of the trust, including member secretary Kirpal Singh Libra, former ministers Maheshinder Singh Grewal, Harmail Singh Tohra, Mr Surjeet Singh Rakhra, MLA, Mr Didar Singh Bhatti, member of the SGPC, and the Principal of the college, Dr D.S. Hira, attended the meeting.

The SGPC chief released the magazine of the college. He, along with the other trustees and subject experts, conducted interview for the staff selection.


Minister asks officials to complete projects
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 22
The Punjab Education Minister and Chairman of the District Development Planning Board, Mr Harnam Das Johar, said under various development schemes a sum of Rs 14.73 crore was allotted to the district for the current year.

While presiding over a meeting of district officials, he directed them to complete the development projects within stipulated time period

Taking up complaints in another grievances committee meeting here, he also directed the officials to strictly deal with the cases of land grabbing.


Record generation by thermal plant

Ropar, March 22
The local Super Thermal Plant of 1260 MW capacity today set a new record in the power generation. Its generation reached 9,086 MU this morning, even 10 days before the end of this financial year.

In 2004-2005 the plant had generated 9,082 MU, said the General Manager of the plant, Mr N.K. Arora, here today. The power generation of the plant by this financial year expected to reach 9,300 MU.

Besides, the coal and demineralised water consumption in the plant also reduced this financial year, Mr Arora added. — TNS


CITU members burn CM’s effigy
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 22
Members of the CITU unit of the district burnt the effigy of Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, to protest against the recent violent attitude of the owners of Oswal Woollen Mills, Ludhiana, in connivance with the police towards the mill workers. They also held a rally to lodge their protest against the state government which had failed in protecting the interests of the labour class.

Addressing the rally, leaders of CITU alleged that during the regime of Capt Amarinder Singh, the mill owners had introduced law of jungle to crush workers.


Rathore trial shifted to Patiala
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 22
Mr Justice Rajive Bhalla of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today allowed the plea of former DGP, Haryana, S.P.S Rathore, for transfer of his trial in the case of suicide by a young girl, Ruchika Gihrotra.

Ruchika, a promising tennis player from Panchkula, allegedly committed suicide after sexual harassment at the hands of Rathore, who was later removed from his post.

The case had been handed over to the CBI for investigation and Rathore had petitioned the High Court with the prayer that the case be shifted from the court of Ms Ritu Garg, Special Judge, CBI (Ambala) to Patiala.

Rathore stands chargesheeted in the case.

Claiming that his family had long-standing relations with Ms Garg, Rathore had stated that the same could be construed to his trying to influence the proceedings.

Accepting the plea, Mr Justice Bhalla also directed the Special CBI court at Ambala to hand over the case record to the Patiala court where the same would be taken up for further hearing on April 19.


Pandey absorbed into Punjab Police
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 22
The long pending issue of absorbing officers of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Border Security Force into the Punjab Police, seems to have ended last evening. The 10th and the last remaining officer, who was a part of anti-terrorist operations in Punjab during the 1980's and 1990's was also absorbed into the Punjab Police.

The Home Secretary, Mr P.K. Verma, issued orders to absorb, Mr A.K. Pandey, Commandant of the fourth Commando Battalion. Mr Pandey, who is from the CRPF, was handpicked in 1991 by the then Director-General of Police, Mr K.P.S Gill, for special intelligence operations. He was also the overall in charge of Mr Gill's security. Before coming to Punjab, Mr Pandey was heading the Special task Force of the CRPF, in Baramulla.

With their absorption, the number of the CRPF and the Border Security Force (BSF) officers absorbed in the Punjab Police has gone to 10. While eight of these officers — Mr A.K. Pandey, Mr R.C Sethi, Mr S.P.S Basra, Mr Khubhi Ram, Mr Ananya Gautam, Mr Suresh Kumar, Mr Vivek Mishra and Mr Rakesh Chandra — served the Punjab police in fight against terrorism, Ms Amrit Brar, on deputation with the Punjab Police since 1993, has been absorbed on compassionate grounds. Her brother, Mr Arvinder Singh Brar, an IPS officer of the Punjab Cadre, was killed by terrorists.

The only officer from the Border Security Force (BSF) to be absorbed is Mr S.K. Singh. Last year the Punjab Government had specially framed rules to absorb these officers as to reward them for the outstanding work in fight against terrorism. 


Grievances redressed on doorstep
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 22
Mr Sadhu Singh Dharmsot, Parliamentary Secretary, today inaugurated a Lok Suvidha camp at Malowal village in the district.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Dharmsot said those camps were being held to redress the grievances of people on their doorstep. He said now people did not have not to visit the district headquarters for the redress of their grievances, rather all district officials remained present at those camps.

Ms Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, called upon the panchyats to create awareness among the people about the camps at the grass roots level. She, along with all district official, took up the problems of the people at the camp.

People attending the camp said they had never imagined that their long-pending problems would be sorted out on their doorstep. Nineteen counters by different departments of the district were set up at the camp.

Ms Amrit Bala, District Social Security Officer, said forms of more than 150 pension seekers were completed. The District Transport Department made more than 200 learning driving licenses. The revenue department did more than 75 mutations and tested hundreds of affidavits. The Health Department examined more than 500 persons.

The Animal Husbandry Department treated more than 400 animals. The camp was arranged by Mr Sandeep Hans, SDM, Amloh. 


SHO suspended

Amritsar, March 22
Station House Officer (SHO) Subba Singh and Additional SHO Gurinder Singh of Sadar police station here were placed under suspension following the firing incident at Gulmarg Colony today.

The suspension was ordered by the SSP, Mr R.P.S. Brar, after investigations. Both the cops have been ordered to report at the Police Lines. — UNI


Woman shoots husband
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Devigarh (Patiala), March 22
In a bizarre incident, Kuldeep Kaur, who informed the police through a relative that her husband, a commission agent, had been murdered by two persons in her house on the night of March 19, has turned out to be the accused herself.

The police managed to trace the crime, which triggered a bandh here yesterday, with the help of scientific investigation and concluded that Kuldeep kaur had murdered her husband, Harnek Singh, after he got to know that she was allegedly having an affair with Mahesh Kumar, who was living as a tenant in their house.

Police sources said on the night of March 19, she took out a 12-bore gun of her husband and shot him from point blank range. He died on the spot.

After committing the crime, she told her brother-in-law Sukhdev Singh that two unidentified persons had come to the house on a motor and Harnek Singh let them in. One of them went straight to Harnek, who was in the bedroom, while the other remained outside the house.

She said she was resting in the room and heard the man talk to her husband about the settlement of payments. She then heard a sound and when she got up, she saw blood oozing out of her husband's head.

She said when she tried to raise the alarm, she was also threatened.

Mr Sukhdev Singh informed the police. The police sources said a senior official reached the spot immediately and after examining the site, he developed suspicion. The gun was sent for forensic examination and it was found that it had been used for firing.

When Mahesh Kumar was questioned, he admitted that he was having an affair with Kuldeep Kaur and Harnek Singh had become suspicious.

The sources said the victim came to know about the affair after he received an anonymous letter. Kuldeep Kaur told Mahesh Kumar on his cellphone and she would either kill herself or her husband.

The SSP said a case had been registered under section 302 of the IPC and Kuldeep Kaur and Mahesh Kumar had been arrested.



Three Bangladeshis arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar March 22
Three Bangladeshis were caught while attempting to cross over the barbed wire on the Indo-Pak border here this evening.

The three were caught by BSF personnel manning the border at Roarawalla Khurd, near pillar no 103/18-19.

The three, Mohammed Sarvar, a son of Aslam, is resident of Bhawnipur, Janwarl Aslam, a son of Samsal of Nurha Kudi, and Abdul Hai, a son of Jovan Din-Ulla of Chur Mangal of Bangladesh.

According to a statement of the accused, the three paid Rs 10,000 to an agent, Roshan Ali, in Kolkata. The agent got them to Delhi by train and further took them to Wagah in a bus. Thereafter, the agent disappeared leaving the three to fend for themselves. A sum of Rs 300 was found on them.


Pbi varsity signs MoU with Canadian varsity
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 22
Representatives of the Kwantlen University College, Surrey (Canada), today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Punjabi University, here to send their students to Punjabi University for language and culture immersion programmes

A Kwantlen university delegation, comprising Mr Leslie Triplett, President of the university, and Mr Harj Dhaliwal, Dean, School of Business Studies, was on a three-day visit to the Punjabi University.

They had deliberations with Punjabi University officials and senior faculty on prospective areas of joint activities of mutual benefit between the two institutions. The discussion centred on the Punjabi language and culture, religion, community development, nursing, horticulture and business studies.

Besides signing the MoU, both institutions agreed to further explore the possibilities of students and faculty exchange programmes and other kinds of joint activities.

Mr Triplett, who delivered a lecture before the university faculty and students on “Role of universities in Canada”, said the basic philosophy of universities in Canada was to produce students who could serve, provide leadership and attain personal success and also contribute to developing culturally rich, healthy, and democratic communities.

Mr Triplett stated that research had confirmed time and again that higher education had a direct powerful bearing on the quality of individuals. The Canadian universities and government laid great emphasis on higher education and about 50 per cent of the Canadian population had education up to the BA level, he added.

He released a colourful booklet containing details of language and culture immersion programme for overseas Punjabis.

Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu, Director, Public Relations, Punjabi University, said earlier, Mr S.S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, had signed a general MoU with the Canadian university during his visit to Canada.


Seminar on biotechnology
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 22
The Department of Biotechnology, Punjabi University, Patiala, organised a national symposium on ‘’New Horizons in Fermentation and Food Biotechnology’’ here yesterday.

The Punjabi University Vice- Chancellor, Mr Swaran Singh Boparai, inaugurated the symposium while Dr U.C. Banerjee, Head of the Department of Biotechnology, NIPER, Mohali, presided over the inaugural session. Dr Ashok Pandey of the Regional Research Laboratory, Thiruvananthapuram, delivered the keynote address.

While inaugurating the symposium, Mr Boparai highlighted the importance of biotechnology and said the subject was the need of the hour. Mr Boparai also highlighted various programmes started for the rural students, particularly the Yadavindra College of Engineering, Talwandi Sabo.

Presiding over the symposium, Dr Banerjee said fermentation was the backbone of biotechnology. He emphasised the potential and lucrative market of genetically modified foods. He stressed that scientists were shifting from conventional fermentation to recombinant fermentation. He also spoke on the production of biopharmaceuticals by the process of fermentation.

While delivering the keynote address, Dr Ashok Pandey said the growth and development in the biotechnology sector, especially pertaining to fermentation technology and food technology, were largely governed by market-driven economy and required substantial investment.

More than 150 delegates from all over the country participated and presented research papers in the symposium. More than 20 delegates from different industries like Ranbaxy, Panacea Biotech, Crest Biotech, Zybus Cadila and some breweries and distilling units took part.


Students celebrate World Forestry Day
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 22
The students of the Desh Bhagat Institute of Management and Computer Sciences, Mandi Gobindgarh, today held a function to celebrate “World Forestry Day” by adopting Naraingarh village for a mass-plantation drive.

Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, was the chief guest at the function. He inaugurated the plantation drive by planting a sapling. Mr Jagmeet Singh Sahota, President, Municipal Committee, Mandi Gobindgarh, presided over the function. Dr Zora Singh, Chairman, Desh Bhagat Group of Institutes, welcomed the guests.

Dr Harbans Lal highlighted the importance of trees in the present era when the pollution was increasing day by day.

A cultural programme was presented by the students. A competition in declamation and a fashion show were held.


Uniforms given to needy students
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 22
With a view to uplift the poor sections of the society, the Chairman of the District Child Welfare Council, Ms Kiran Garewal, distributed uniforms, stationary and books to 35 needy students at an evening school at Kambali here yesterday.

She said the aim of the schools was to provide education to children who were not able to join regular schools.


Bankers seek overtime charges
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 22
Mr M.M. Behl, general secretary, State Bank of Patiala Staff Union, has urged the bank management to arrange for the payment of overtime charges to its employees keeping in view an increase in business and profitability of the bank.

Mr Behl said here today that the bank management was aware of the fact that hard work being put in by its employees had been propelling the bank to fetch more business and subsequently to earn more profit. Now it had become a duty of the management to pay overtime charges to those employees who had been working extra time.

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