P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Govt to raise memorial to freedom fighters
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 23
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, today announced to set up “Punjab Memorial” in memory of known and unknown freedom fighters, soldiers and patriots who sacrificed their lives for the country.

The Chief Minister was here to pay tributes at the Samadhi of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev on their 75th Martyrdom Day.

The three revolutionaries who went to the gallows smilingly on March 23, 1931 at Central Jail, Lahore were cremated here on the western banks of Sutlej following public upheaval in Lahore.

The Chief Minister was accompanied by Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy CM, Mr Ravinder Singh Sandhu, Dr Mohinder Rinwa, Mr Parkash Bhatti, all MLAs, Mr H.S. Bhullar OSD to CM, Mr Balmukand Sharma vice-president, PPCC, Mr Raminder Awla President PYC, Mr Anumeet Sodhi, vice-president PYC, Mr Gurnaib Brar ex-MLA, Mr Anoop Singh, President DCC and other senior Congress functionaries, freedom fighters, and senior Army and civil officials.

The Chief Minister said Indian history was replete with saga of sacrifices by the unsung heroes. Lauding the sacrifice of three sons of the soil, the CM said, “It is our moral duty to nurture the spirit of nationalism amongst our youth through commemoration of such occasions in a befitting manner”.

The CM stated that the Punjab government would commemorate 100th birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh next year in an appropriate manner. The government has embarked on a programme to beautify native villages of all martyrs, freedom fighters and warriors who made supreme sacrifice for the motherland and develop them as heritage sites and thus perpetuate their memory.

He exhorted people to follow martyrs who sacrificed their youth to free us from slavery. The government has spent Rs 3 crore on development and beautification of the martyr’s memorial.

The CM honoured relatives of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Rajguru which included Mr Babaar Singh Sandhu son of Bhagat Singh’s brother Kulbir Singh, Major-General Sheonan Singh son of Ranbir Singh (Bhagat Singh’s second brother), Mr Waman Raj Chander Ghatpandey, first cousin of Rajguru, who had come from Pune besides six other freedom fighters including Darshan Singh, Sulakhan Singh, Ranjit Singh, Swaran Singh, Dharam Singh and Pola Singh.

The Chief Minister also released a book “Comrade in arms- until death and thereafter” written by Commissioner Ferozepore Division, Kulbir Singh Sidhu on the life and times of martyrs. The book contains rare photographs of Bhagat Singh’s belongings and narrates sequence of events which led to the cremation of three martyrs on the banks of Sutlej. It also has features on freedom fighters like Ram Prasad Bismil, Rajinder Nath Lahiri, Roshan Singh and Asfhaq Ullah.

Later, interacting with reporters, Mr Amarinder Singh stated that the government had created a Rural Development Fund with corpus of Rs 750 crore under which sewerage, drinking water and paved lanes would be constructed for 1692 villages spending Rs 558.58 crore.

To a question on the opening of Hussaniwala border, the CM said that once trade through Wagah picked up and the system fell in place there, efforts would be made for the opening of Hussaniwala and Dera Baba Nanak borders, to boost trade and finance in the region.

Mr Amarinder Singh, who is also Colonel of the Punjab Regiment thereafter unveiled the martyr’s memorial constructed by 15th Punjab Regiment of the Indian Army in the memory of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the Indo-Pakistan conflict of 1971 at Hussaniwala. The memorial constructed in 19 days exhibits names of 55 martyrs including two officers belonging to 15 Punjab Regiment known as “First Patiala” which fought Indo-Pakistan battle at Hussaniwala in 1971. Lt Gen V.R. Raghawan (Retd.), Lt Gen Mohinder Singh (Retd.), Major General KJS Oberoi, Major General Mahavir Singh, Mr B.C. Thakur DC, Mr S.S. Srivastava, SSP and other senior officials attended the function.


Homage paid to martyrs
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 23
Those who sacrifice their lives for the nation and attain martyrdom are never forgotten. The sacrifices made by Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev will continue to inspire our younger generation. This was stated by Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary at a function organised by the Shaheed Rajiv Gandhi Vichar Manch and Human Rights Management at Sirhind town today to pay homage to the martyrs.

He called upon the youth to wage a war against social evils like dowry, female foeticide and drug addiction. He urged the people to maintain communal harmony at every cost.

He announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for the construction of a Dharamshala in the name of the martyrs and Rs 31,000 for various clubs.

Mr Manish Verma, state president of the manch, Mr Gursharn Singh Bitto, district president, Human Rights Management, in their address paid tributes to the martyrs and said such programs should be organised in remote rural areas.

A similar function was also organised at Khanpur village by the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Memorial Social Welfare and Sports Club. Dr Harbans Lal presided over the function. He laid the foundation stone of the 1.75 km road in the name of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.


Special relief plan for widows of terrorist violence
Varinder Singh & Parmod Bharti
Tribune News Service

Khatkar Kalan (Nawanshahr), March 23
As Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal failed to turn up and pay their tributes to Shaheed Bhagat Singh due to their “busy schedule” for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Amritsar visit, PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo strived hard to fill the void and to simultaneously repulse the attacks mounted by SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal against the Congress.

While the PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo who, was accompanied by a battery of senior Congress leaders-Tarlochan Singh Soondh, Gurvinder Singh Atwal, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Chaudhary Santokh Singh, Malkit Singh Dakha and Mr Parkash Singh — held Akalis responsible for terrorism, Mr Parkash Singh Badal termed the Captain Amarinder Singh government as “anti-people”.

The allegations and counter-allegations levelled by leaders of the Congress, SAD, Lok Bhalai Party, CPM (Pasla faction) CPM, the CPI-ML, converted the state-level function organised to pay tributes to Shaheed Bhagat Singh on his 75th martyrdom day, as a political gimmick.

Coming down heavily on the SAD and its allies, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo alleged that it was the SAD which was responsible for terrorism in Punjab. “To fulfil their narrow political ambitions Akalis launched a ‘morcha’ for the creation of the ‘Punjabi Suba’ and then ultimately pushed Punjab into terrorism. Akalis misused religion to mislead innocent people of Punjab where, Guru Gobind Singh had founded the ‘Khalsa Panth’ to create a secular society. On the land of Anandpur Sahib where, the ‘Khalsa Panth’ was formed, the SAD passed a resolution demanding a separate Sikh state. In almost same way, the BSP misled Dalits. It were the sacrifices made by the workers of Congress which restored peace in the disturbed state,” said Mr. Dullo.

Mr Dullo said a special package was being envisaged by the Congress government to provide financial assistance to widows of nearly 26000 terrorism-affected persons on the pattern of the financial assistance provided to victims of anti-Sikh riots of 1984. “I have already discussed the issue with the Prime Minister and he has given his consent to my proposal in this regard,” said Mr Dullo.

Bibi Parkash Kaur, sister of Sardar Bhagat Singh, who was present on the occasion, was honoured by the PPCC chief along with other 13 other family members of the martyr.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal lashed out at the Captain Amarinder Singh led Congress government for its “anti-people” policies. “The performance of Congress government is so dismal that all sections of society are left disillusioned. The Congress government has done nothing except trapping the SAD leaders and booking them in false cases. The congress government has withdrawn various facilities and relief which, were provided to different sections of people by the SAD-BJP government. Development has come to a standstill and corruption has touched new heights in the Captain’s regime,” alleged Mr Badal.

Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Deputy Speaker, Lok Sabha, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, the Punjab Local Bodies Ministers, Mr Parkash Singh, Parliamentary Secretary, the Lok Bhalai Party chief Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, Chaudhary Santokh Singh, MLA, Prof Balwant Singh, the state secretary of the CPM, Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, the State Secretary (Pasla faction), former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur, also spoke on the occasion.

A number of NGOs including, UPKAAR, the district-level coordination committee of the NGOs, the Rotary Club, organised exhibitions, while the UPKAAR started its third 15-day-long drug de-addiction camp to mark the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev.


BJP seeks disqualification of 12 Punjab MLAs
Holding office of profit
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
The Punjab unit of the BJP today submitted a complaint against the 12 Congress MLAs seeking their disqualification. In a complaint sent to the President, Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the BJP has sought the action against the MLAs under the Punjab State Legislature( Prevention of disqualification) Punjab Act No 7 of 1952.

The Organising Secretary of the Punjab unit of the BJP, Mr Parshant Kumar, has requested the President that the action should be taken in case of 12 Punjab MLAs immediately and they should be disqualified. Mr Parshant Kumar has stated that these MLAs were holding office of profit as Chairpersons of various government undertakings.

The MLAs against whom complaint has been filed include, Mr Joginder Singh Mann,Mr Surinder Singh Kathunangal, Ms Aruna Chaudhary, Choudhary Ram Lubhaya, Mr Surinder Dabur,Mr Om Parkash Soni, Mr Rumal Chand, Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, Mr Ashok Sharma, Mr Gurjant Singh Kuttiwal, Mr Razia Sultana. The BJP has also sought action against the Punjab Housing and Urban Development Minister, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, taking the plea that he was holding the office of the Chairman of the Punjab Urban and Housing Development Authority (PUDA).

However, a senior functionary of the state government said there was no substance in the BJP’s complaint. He said the state government had declared all offices held by the MLAs as non-profit offices. “We have completed all legal formalities before appointing MLAs as Chairpersons. So, there was nothing to worry for MLAs in this connection”, he added.

However, Mr Pritam Singh Kumedan, a known expert on legal matters, said the MLAs of various states were covered under Article 191 of the Indian Constitution. He said legally the state Assemblies had the power to exempt any office from being office of profit. However, in case the same is challenged by anyone in the court, then the state government would have to prove technically that the office exempted by it from being office of profit was actually such office which means that the holder of that office was not getting any financial benefit in the form of salary, allowances, conveyance facilities etc.

He said if an MLA, who holds office of chairperson of any government organisation, is getting salary in the range of Rs 20,000 to 30,000 and enjoying all other financial benefits then it was a “fraud on the constitution” to declare such office as non profit office.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee’s president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, said by resigning from Lok Sabha membership and the post of Chairperson of the National Advisory Council, the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, had shown courage, conviction for the high moral values.

He said Ms Gandhi had earlier set an example by renouncing the post of the Prime Minister. He said today’s development was slap on the face of BJP leaders, who did not resign though they were allegedly involved in certain criminal cases.

Mr Ashwani Kumar, Union Minister of State for the Department of Industrial Policy, said Ms Sonia Gandhi had set new standards of public morality and politics in the country. Her case rested on firm legal grounds and she could have successfully pleaded that she was not holding any office of profit. “Yet, she chose to respond to her own standards of sensitivities and public morality and decided on her own to sacrifice once again the posts she held”, said Mr Ashwani Kumar.

The SAD leader, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said it was a moral defeat of Ms Sonia Gandhi, who had to resign from Parliament under pressure of the Opposition. Mr Badal said till the last moment, the UPA Government tried to save the membership of Ms Sonia Gandhi. However, when the Opposition mounted its attack, she had to resign because she was left with no other alternative.


Politicians, bureaucrats close to CM minting money, says Jagmeet Brar
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 23
Infighting in the Congress again come to fore as senior Congress leaders Jagmeet Singh Brar, Vijay Sathi, Ratinder Singh Saiyanwala, Chander Mohan Handa, both Secretaries PPCC, Congress Councillors and others skipped official function presided over by the Chief Minister organised to pay homage to Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukhdev and visited their memorial before the CM’s arrival on the occasion of then 75 Martyrdom Day.

While addressing reporter at Hotel Kaysons here today, Mr Brar criticised CM, Amarinder Singh stating corruption was rampant in the state as certain politicians and bureaucrats close the CM were pocketing crores the Chief Minister also was selling interests of the Punjabis to big builders, real estate developers, land grabbers and liquor mafia where as traders, farmers and small-scale industrialists were suffering. On not attending the official function presided by the CM, Mr Brar said asserting he was senior Congress man to Mr Amarinder Singh, “I don’t care about the CM”. The CM was playing divide and rule policy as first he tried to oust and unsettle Mrs Bhattal, then tried to nail him also but all in vain. He said that the Congress high command was seized of unethical and corrupt practices being adopted by Congress leaders belonging to the CM’s coterie. Ignoring senior Congress men would not do any good to the Chief Minister. Continuing Mr Brar said that there was no Congress rule in the state instead there was only “Patiala Rule” and the Punjabis were suffering due to “repressive style of the CM.

On Assembly elections in the state, Mr Brar said that the Congress had fought and won the previous elections on the issue of corruption in the state but now that stance seems to have been diluted due to some black sheep crept into the Congress party. Since Akalis also did not have any concrete programme for the state the Congress would win the elections.

The Chief Minister was doling out money according to whims and fancies without consulting senior Congress leaders and elected representatives of the respective areas he said that Mr Vijay Sathi who contested on Congress ticket from Moga lost the Previous Vidhan Sabha elections by 400 votes, but he has never been consulted before allocating grants in his constituency in the past four years. Rather some new entrants were distributing cheques on behalf of the government.


Govt, Sikh clergy lock horns over shootout case
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 23
The state government and the Sikh clergy are on the warpath following the Balluana shootout incident and the situation is expected to worsen in the coming days.

While Chief Minister Amarinder Singh categorically announced that law of the land would take its own course and anybody whosoever high he may be would be arrested if he had taken the law for granted.

Without mentioning the names of Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar Damdama Sahib and Manager Takht Talwandi Sabo, the chief minister said he was very clear that all were equivalent in the eyes of law and arrests were imminent in the case.

Taking serious view of the incident, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, said he would not allow the state government to interfere in the affairs of the Sikhs so far as “maryada” was concerned. It was the duty of the government to ensure that there was no violation of “hukmnamas” (edicts), pronounced from the Akal Takht, he added.

Meanwhile, Jathedar Nandgarh has called an emergency meeting of the representatives of all Panthic organisations at Takht Damdama Sahib on March 25 to chalk out the next course of action.

On the other hand, the villagers of Balluana have decided to organise “sehaj path” at the same place from where Guru Granth Sahib was taken away by the SGPC’s task force under the leadership of Jathedar Nandgarh. 


Scholars seek support for Sanskrit
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 23
Saluting the rich contribution of “greater” Punjab towards the propagation and flourishing of varied and superior aspects of Sanskrit, mother of all languages, scholars of the language, who had congregated here today for a national seminar, urged for stronger support to the language that could unravel mysteries of the world, before the developed countries usurp the researches as their own.

The two-day national seminar on "Contribution of Punjab to Sanskrit Literature" was organised by the Department of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit, Guru Nanak Dev University.

Talking to The Tribune, it emerged among Sanskrit scholars that research should also be conducted as per the scripting of Ramayana, widely believed to have been conceived at Ram Tirath near here, besides establishing other aspects of life and episodes in the lifetime of Lord Rama, the basis for Ramayana. Several scholars, including Prof Swatantar Kumar, Vice-Chancellor of Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya, Hardwar, Dr Anirudh Joshi Head of Maharishi Dayanand Chair of Panjab University, Chandigarh, Dr Lekh Ram Sharma (GND varsity) unanimously agreed that every religion's identity becomes more stronger with the backing of research and historical evidence to establish facts and hence it would not be amiss to conduct such an exercise.

Mr Ratan Ravan, president, Adi Dharma Samaj, agreed with the suggestion and said the Balmikis Samaj must also rise to conduct research in this field to arrive at correct perspective. Mr Surinder Arjun , president, Durgiana Temple Management Committee, echoed his views and said there should not be any objection if such a research is conducted.

Prof Bhaskran Nair, Director, VVR Institute, Hoshiarpur, and ex-head in the Department of Sanskrit , Panjab University, stated that Punjab was widely accepted as the home of the Vedas and Punjabi enjoys a special status due to its closeness to Vedic Sanskrit, more than any other modern Indian Language. The Rigveda was composed here.

Prof Swatantar Kumar, during his address, regretted that several specialised fields remained untapped and unreachable due to their medium (Sanskrit) being ignored, whereas the entire 'greater' Punjab till Afghanistan had a rich history of producing scholars and scientists of topmost calibre at famous university of Taxila in Pakistan. These scholars include Rishi Vishwamiter who composed the Vedas, Acharya Panini, the great grammarian, Kautilya of the Chandra Gupt Maurya era, who wrote the Arthshastra, Charak on Ayurveda-scientific medicinal text, Aryabhatta on geography and astronomy, besides other greats.

Dr Aniruddh Joshi, in his keynote address, said the knowledge of the Vedas was revealed in this area comprising the land between the river Sindhu and Saraswati called Saptasindhu. Some Smrities (religious books) like Manusmriti, Vashishta, Vishnu and Yajnavalkya Smrities were also written by thinkers of this land. He said Sankhya, Yoga and Vedanta system of Indian Philosophy had their origin in Punjab.

Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, inaugurated this seminar. Dr L.P. Upadhayay and Mahant Ramparkash also expressed their views. More than 80 Sanskrit scholars are participating in this seminar.


Leaders want Deve Gowda to quit as JD(S) chief
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 23
Janata Dal (S) crisis at the national level deepened when Mr Varinder Kumar, MP and leader of the Parliamentary Party in the Lok Sabha, demanded the resignation of Mr H. D. Deve Gowda from the post of party President for recognising his son H. D. Kumaraswamy as party leader in the Karnatka Assembly. He said if Mr Gowda refused to resign on his own, then the national executive had no choice but to expel him.

In a press release here today, Mr Balwant Singh Khera and Thakur Ranjit Singh former MP from Himachal Pradesh, both members of the national executive committee, had supported the demand of Mr Varinder Kumar. They said the executive committee had suspended all the 39 MLAs, including Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, while Mr H. D. Deve Gowda, former Prime Minister, was in the chair.

The legislators concerned had been served with show-cause notices and they were yet to submit their explanations. Then the disciplinary committee had to take further action. Both the leaders demanded immediate meeting of the national executive to take stock of the developments.


Probe against Civil Surgeon, SMOs begins
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 23
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has initiated probe against Jalandhar Civil Surgeon Dr S.P. Sharma, certain senior medical officers (SMOs) and other officials of the office of the Civil Surgeon for corrupt practices.

USA-based NRI Santokh Singh Randhawa alias Kaile, on whose complaint the probe has been initiated had alleged payment of bribe to agents for death certificate of his father.

Apart from the Civil Surgeon, the bureau has initiated probe against the district health officer, on Mr Randhawa’s complaint which alleged that the district health officer (DHSO) had been taking monthlies from owners of eateries, milkmen and sweetment shop owners, for not collecting samples by the health authorities.

Allegations of Mr Randhawa, who hails from Jandiala village near here, are of serious nature. Sources pointed out the probe had been entrusted to Mr Guriqbal Singh, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, Jalandhar.

“A probe has been started. We are making enquiry against the Civil Surgeon and 10 other employees of his office”, said a senior vigilance officer.

Sources in Vigilance Bureau revealed certain SMOs and members of the clerical staff were also being subjected to scrutiny.

Mr Randhawa, had alleged he had to pay Rs 1500 for getting the death certificate of his father after he was directed by a woman official in the office of the Civil Surgeon to contact an agent, sitting outside the office, if he wanted the certificate. Mr Randhawa was ‘shocked’ when he approached the ‘agent’ concerned. “He not only got the work done in short time after taking the bribe, but also told me that a false certificate of death could also be procured for Rs 15000 and Rs 20000,” said the complainant.

The complainant alleged the Civil Surgeon was “helping” certain private hospitals, where female foeticide was being “carried out with impunity.” “The DHSO is also collecting huge money” said Mr Randhawa, in the complaint. “We are going to summon the Civil Surgeon, the DHSO, SMOs and other officials, whose names have figured in the complaint,” said a senior VB official.


No flu in migratory birds: Wildlife Department
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur March 23
The Department of Wildlife has allayed suspicions that migratory birds might bring bird flu to the state. The department recently conducted a survey to ascertain if migratory birds infected with bird flu virus were present in the state.

No migratory bird has been found to have perished due to bird flu in the entire state. The Wildlife Department officials have surveyed areas around all major water bodies in the state that are the resting places of the migratory birds. The survey was conducted after bird flu cases were confirmed in areas of Pakistan adjoining Punjab.

From the survey, wildlife officials have concluded that the bird flu might have spread in other states from poultry practices being followed by farmers and not from the migratory birds. The Department of Animal Husbandry has also established a bird flu monitoring cell at Jalandhar to keep a watch over the situation.

The survey for bird flu has, however, brought up other issuing haunting the migratory bird population in the state.


CM to get Gobindgarh Fort’s keys today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 23
The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, is likely to hand over the keys of historic Gobindgarh Fort, currently under the Army’s control to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at a public rally scheduled to be held here on March 24 to mark flagging of much-awaited Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus.

The decision to hand over the fort to civil administration has aroused tremendous curiosity among freedom fighters and public here. It was a public request that Gobindgarh Fort be handed over to the civil administration to make the national heritage available for public viewing.

The fort dates back to 1760, which was built by Sikh warrior Gujjar Singh. It was taken over by the British Government in 1849 and maintained by the Army since Independence. The fort also was the official residence of the British commander, General Dyer.


Amritsar discriminated against: welfare body
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 23
On the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit here members of the Save Amritsar, a welfare organisation today demanded city’s ‘due share’ in development projects the Centre was contemplating for the country.

Members alleged that the city — hub of trade and commerce, — had always been discriminated against by vested interests in the state government.

They said terrorism had pushed the city to the wall.

The business community was hoping for the revival of Indo Pakistan trade but vested interests were bent on torpeding interests of holy city by setting up two new international airports at Ludhiana and Chandigarh. They said there was no international airports in a small state like Punjab when the airport at Amritsar had not been developed fully.

They alleged national institute of bio-technology promised for Amritsar had been shifted to Dera Bassi while the Indian Institute of Science was being established somewhere else. The four-laning of G T Road terminated at Jalandhar years ago was not extended up to Amritsar.

They urged the Prime Minister to see through the designs of vested interests and ensure the city got due share in development projects.


Treat police cats as per law, says Bitta
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 23
Without mentioning the name, Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, president, All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, today alleged that certain senior police officers who worked in various capacities in the Vigilance Bureau and were still holding key posts, were misguiding leaders of political parties for their selfish motives. They were also trying to disturb peace and harmony in Punjab by again reviving terrorism in state.

Talking to mediapersons, he said the recent telecast of a programme on pro-Khalistan leaders by a private TV channel was an attempt to disturb peace and communal harmony and to create terror among the people of Punjab. The recent revelation about the rehabilitation of 300 police cats had added fuel to the fire. Though these cats had helped the police in eliminating terrorists in Punjab, they should also be treated according to law of the country for their involvement or committing crimes. Law was equal for all the citizens, he added.

He said that he was being pressurised by the pro-terrorist police officers to adopt a soft attitude towards those terrorists who were freely moving in society.

He pointed out that some of the political leaders were also patronizing terrorists to settle their scores in politics.

Referring to the recent holding of Virsa Sambhal Sammelan at Sirhind, Mr Bitta said such functions should be organised to make youths aware about the great traditions and ancient culture of the country.

While condemning the bomb blasts in Varanasi, Mr Bitta announced a cash prize of Rs 2.50 lakh for persons providing clues about the culprits responsible for these blasts.


22 relatives allowed to meet PM
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 23
A list of 22 immediate relatives has been approved who would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his two-day visit to the holy city.

According to sources, Mr Surjit Singh Kohli, his wife, and the family members of Late Surinder Singh Kohli, his nephews and their wives, three sisters, brother-in-laws and their children are among those who are scheduled to meet Dr Singh tomorrow at Circuit House.


Awareness camp by Gram Udyog Board
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 23
Mr Charanjit Singh Walia, Chairman, Punjab Khadi and Gram Udyog Board, said that rural industrial revolution in the state would take place by 2015 as the Punjab Khadi and Gram Udyog Board was initiating major steps to achieve this goal. He said with a view to achieve the goal, the Board wanted setting up of five industrial units in each village of the state by the rural unemployed people.

Mr Walia was here today to participate in an awareness camp organised to explain the schemes of the Board for starting self-employment ventures in villages and inspire the rural unemployed youths and other people to start their own ventures with the help of the Board. Mr Bhim Shah, District Village Industry Organiser (DVIO), Sangrur, was also present on the occasion.

Talking to mediapersons, Mr Walia said the Punjab Khadi and Gram Udyog Board helped the unemployed people in taking loans from the banks and provided subsidy to them on the loans from 25 per cent to 30 per cent. 


Residents block traffic
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 23
Hundreds of residents of Sutehri Khurd, Santokh Nagar and Ward No 17 localities led by Mr Bakhshi Ram, Ms Kamaljit Kaur, Municipal Councillor and Mr Lal Chand Bhatti, blocked vehicular traffic by staging a dharna for more than four hours on the Hoshiarpur-Phagwara road near SD College here today.

The residents were protesting the poor supply of water in their localities for the past 10 days. It was only after the assurance by the municipal authorities to arrange the supply that the blockade was lifted.

Mr Jagir Singh Thind, Executive Officer, MC, said the Improvement Trust had connected the water supply pipes with the Mc pipes to arrange water supply to its colony in the adjoining area. On account of some major fault in the tube-well of the Trust, the supply remained affected for the past one month. In view of the new motor being installed at tube-well, he hoped that the supply would be restored by the evening.


Protest by bank staff
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 23
On the call of the State Sector Bank Employees Association, a body consisting of the staff of the State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Indore, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur held a demonstration in front of the head office of the State Bank of Patiala here today.

They were protesting against the "indifferent" attitude of the State Bank of India management and demanded discussions on the charter of demands submitted by the State sector Bank Employees Association.

The association added that on March 28, all associate banks would observe a strike in this regard.

The rally was addressed by Mr S.K. Gautam, general secretary of the State Bank of Patiala employees Union(Punjab), Mr K.K. Sehgal, joint secretary, and Mr Yadivinder Gupta, treasurer.


Special Narcotics Cell inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 23
Vested with executive powers, a Special Narcotics Cell (SNC), Punjab, was inaugurated by Mr J.P. Virdi, ADGP, Intelligence, here today.

The cell, with its specialised task force, would act towards uprooting of smuggling and eradication of drug abuse, besides keeping watch on hawala transactions, to collect and disseminate and record information and data relating to narcotics terrorism. It would act as a nodal agency on behalf of the Punjab police for maintaining liaison with all other agencies.

Mr Virdi said the cell was a timely, positive and dedicated effort to control and eradicate drug abuse in the state.


Suvidha Centre set up
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, March 23
A Suvidha Centre has been set up to extend various amenities to people at the Mini-Secretariat complex here. The fully air-conditioned centre has 15 computerised counters.

The public can procure such certificates as domicile, SC/OBC, rural area, handicapped, birth and death certificates and arms licences from these counters.

All transport documents such as the driving licence, learning licence, registration of new vehicles, renewal of licences of stamp vendors and document writers will also be made available.


Wheat arrivals pick up
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, March 23
The arrival of wheat crop, which started in the local grain market on March 21, has started picking up momentum.

According to official sources, elaborate arrangements have been made for the procurement of wheat. In fact, there has been a rise in the procurement prices over the past few days.

Mr Kashmir Singh and Mr Angrej Singh, both farmers from Shankar Pur village, said they sold their crop for Rs 763 per quintal on March 21. And today, it sold for Rs 875 per quintal, they said, adding that there had been no problem in selling their crop.

The Rajpura grain market is one of those markets which gets crops early. Wheat harvesting traditionally starts on Baisakhi — April 13 — in Punjab.


Finetune wheat lifting: arhtiyas
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 23
Mr Ved Parkash Tallewalia, president of the Kacha Arhtiyas Association, Barnala, has urged Mr K. R. Lakhanpal, Chief Secretary, Punjab, to gear up wheat procurement agencies to avert the recurrence of the paddy procurement season shortcomings in the Barnala region. Mr Tallewalia exhorted the Chief Secretary, Punjab, to ensure finetuning of the wheat procurement apparatus.

In a letter written to the Chief Secretary, Mr Tallewalia pointed out that for want of coordination between the District Food and Supplies Controller Sangrur’s Office and the Rice Millers Association, the system had to pass through a severe ordeal. He said for many days, there was virtually nil or very small purchase and lifting of paddy and it had created hardships for farmers as well as commission agents.

Mr Tallewalia alleged that delay in the procurement process paved the way for corruption and afflicted the Food Corporation of India (FCI) purchase centres.


Drug addict ends life
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 23
A middle-aged person allegedly committed suicide at Bhajoli village, near here, yesterday.

According to the police, Kuldeep Singh, was a drug addict. The postmortem was done at the local Civil Hospital here today after which the body was handed over to his family.

The police has initiated proceedings under Section 174 of the Cr PC.


Sainik School gets grant of Rs 1.78 crore
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, March 23
It is a joyful time for the administration and students of Sainik School, Kapurthala, for they have received three grants to the tune of Rs 1.78 crore from the state and central governments this month.

While a major share of Rs 1.32 crore has come for the construction of a double-storey hostel building for 200 boys, Rs 74,00,250 has been received for the disbursement of scholarships to the students of sessions 2004-05 and 2005-06. Both these grants have been received from the state government. In addition, the school has for the first time received an assistance of Rs 10 lakh from the Central Government for training its cadets.

The wards of the school and their parents had been long awaiting the scholarship that had been revised after 16 years in February last year. An amount of Rs 38,11,500 has been sent for distribution of scholarship among 179 cadets who were enrolled in the session 2004-05, while Rs 34,61,500 has been earmarked for the students who would pass out in the current concluding session.

The amount of scholarship to be given to the students would vary according to four income slabs fixed by the state government. The lowest income is fixed at Rs 96,000 per annum for which the scholarship would be Rs 26,000. The second slab is that of Rs 1.2 lakh per year for which the scholarship amount is fixed at Rs 19,000.

The parents with an income of up to Rs 1.44 lakh were assured an amount of Rs 13,000 as scholarship for their wards while those with income up to Rs 1.8 lakh were guaranteed that their children would receive Rs 7,500 as scholarship.

At that time, the school office had been formally notified by the Special Secretary, School Education, that their scholarship had been revised. The parents had said the amount of scholarship of the students had not been revised ever since it was introduced in the year 1989. While the fee of the students had been increasing from time to time, no change had been made in the amount of the scholarship, thus causing a huge financial burden on the parents.

The school staff informed that seven cadets had qualified for the NDA this year. Those who have qualified the examination are school captain Navjot, Agyapal, Guriqbal, Navjot, Palminder, Mangeshwar and Mahabir.


Meritorious students awarded
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 23
The Deputy Commissioner of Hoshiarpur, Mr D. K. Tiwari, at the annual prize distribution function of the local Government College, yesterday presented awards and rolls of honour to brilliant students. Those awarded included Jot Sarup, an old student of the college who did MSc and PhD from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and has been selected to be a researcher at the space agency, NASA, of the USA.

Rolls of honour were presented to eight students and the college colour was presented to 66 students of the college who excelled in education, sports and cultural activities and achieved top positions in the Panjab University examinations of 2004-05 session.

A message sent by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, was read on the occasion. He exhorted the students to bring brilliance in their lives through scientific temper and equipping themselves with the latest technological knowledge.

Mr Tiwari underlined the need to identify the fast changing spheres of world scenario and get ready to meet the global challenges in the liberalisation era.

The Principal, Mr Parmajit Kaur Pasricha, read out the annual report of the college.


‘Autonomous status for DAV institutes soon’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 23
The DAV College Managing Committee has initiated the process of making its top institutions of higher learning to acquire autonomous and deemed university status.

Mr D.R. Gupta, Director (colleges), DAV College Managing Committee, said the committee was formulating a policy to allow the institutes under its management to adopt better educational infrastructure and chalk out comprehensive plan to become autonomous. He added that some of the institutions had been excelling in providing quality education and carved a special position in the annals of the national education.

Mr Gupta made these remarks while addressing the 35th annual convocation of the BBK DAV College for Women here today.

He said it was for the first time that the DAV institutions would work towards building up research environment in the colleges to provide the students excellent environment for research and development.

Mr R.S. Sharma, vice-president of DAV institutions, while presiding over the function, pleaded for adopting radical measures to curb crime against women. He called upon the girl students to live their life to the full potential and utilise their education for the betterment of the society. He exhorted the students to imbibe qualities of courage and confidence and work for their own betterment.

Dr Raj Kumar, Parliamentary Secretary, Education, announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the development of the college. Mr Sharma conferred degrees to 950 students, including 750 graduates and 125 postgraduates. Principal J. Kackria presented the annual report of the college. The students presented a cultural programme on the occasion.


Medical teachers want decision deferred
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 23
The Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association (PSMDTA) has urged the government not to take the decision of formation of medical societies for restructuring of medical and dental colleges in haste and to defer the process of registration of societies.

In a press statement issued here yesterday, Dr Baljeet Singh Dhillon, general secretary of the association, said the decision may have a wider implication on the health services and medical education in the state if implemented in haste.

He said the association would respond only after studying the details. He requested the Secretary, Department of Medical Education and Research, to provide a copy of the decision to them.


Painting exhibition on Guru Granth Sahib
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 23
"A Symphony- a homage", an exhibition of paintings on Guru Granth Sahib by Hardev Singh of the Department of Fine Arts, Punjabi University, Patiala, was organised here today.

Commenting on these paintings, the Vice-Chancellor, Mr S.S. Boparai, said the paintings look as if these were from the dominant art movement of American painting of the late 1940s and 1950s. "This art movement is called abstract expressionism and is characterised by a desire to convey powerful emotions through sensuous qualities of paint. This was the most significant art movement all over the world since the Second World War. Its main features were a spirit of revolt against tradition and desire for spontaneous freedom of expression," he remarked.

He added that he hoped these "pictorial expressions of divine musical verses would create the same feelings in the minds of the viewers as felt by the artist while preparing the visuals."

Dr Saroj Sharma, Director, Museum and Art Gallery, said Hardev Singh was one of the most prolific painters of Punjab.

"As a resident artist in the department, he has poured out an unending flood of work which is based on the Ragas of Guru Granth Sahib," said Dr Saroj Sharma. She said this set of compositions created the rhythm and melody of verses where the artist plunged himself into the ocean of sounds and illustrates the dialogues of his soul with the inner radiance influenced by mysticism.

The exhibition will remain open till March 31.


Seminar on Punjab economy
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 23
A national seminar sponsored by the UGC on "Punjab Economy—challenges and opportunities" organised by the Economics department of the university was inaugurated by Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, today.

The Vice-Chancellor presided. Mr Surinder Singla said the growth rate of the economy had slowed down as compared to the national growth rate but the national growth rate was higher due to huge investment of private sector enterprises.

He quoted the success story of the telecom sector and added that he was optimistic about the acceleration of the growth of the economy. He appealed to researchers and economists to guide the state government in the formulation of solid economic policies.

The Vice-Chancellor reviewed the education situation in Punjab, particularly in the rural areas, and asked the minister to increase the financial allocation for education. He said the university had taken initiative to provide technical education to students of the rural areas.

Prof Sucha Singh Gill of the Department of Economics explained that the 5 per cent growth rate of Punjab economy could not be compared with the 8 per cent growth rate of the national economy. During the past few years Punjab economy had slipped down as far as the growth rate was concerned. He also focussed on low saving and investment.

Earlier Dr G.K. Bhatia, Head of the department, said the state was facing many challenges and that was why the department felt the need to discuss the opportunities of the state economy.

She suggested that appropriate policies should be framed to accelerate the growth process.

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