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Rs 134 crore MC Budget passed
BJP, SAD councillors boycott meeting
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, March 27
Though the entire opposition, including BJP-SAD councillors, today boycotted the budget meeting of the Municipal Corporation, the Congress majority in the House passed the Rs 134-crore budget.

The leader of the Opposition and BJP Councillor, Mr Shawet Malik, told The Tribune that as the House assembled they took the issue of the demolition of 27 kiosks in the Putlighar area last week on the directions of Punjab and Haryana High Court. Mr Malik alleged that the corporation could not present the case on merit, which led to the demolition of 40-year-old kiosks. Mr Malik described the passing of the Budget was illegal and unconstitutional as the Mayor failed to present the Budget and there was no discussion on it.

However, Mr Sunil Datti, Mayor, maintained that the Budget was passed by the House without any hitch.

Meanwhile, Commissioner K.S. Kang said that Rs 20 crore had been earmarked for the construction of elevated roads in the Budget to provide easy access to thousands of devotees visiting the Golden Temple from the GT road side. The project is likely to commence by the end of the next month.

Giving details of major expenditure on the development of the holy city, include Rs 11 crore for the repair and maintenance of the roads besides Rs 7 crore for the development of streets and drains.

Mr Kang said adequate funds of Rs 7 crore had been allocated for upgrading civic amenities in slum areas of the city. While Rs 7 crore had been kept for the maintenance of streetlights besides a provision of Rs 3 crore have been made for the purchase of new vehicles for fire brigade and for old machinery. He added that an amount of Rs 6 crore had been kept apart for miscellaneous expenses.

Meanwhile, Mr Sunil Datti announced the setting up of seven-member committee to rehabilitate the demolished kiosk holders by providing them suitable alternative sites in the city. With the assurances given by Mr Raj Kumar, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Kanwaljit Singh, president of the Putlighar Khokha Union, withdrew his threat and lifted the dharna. Mr Raj Kumar had promised to provide them grant of Rs 20,000 each as relief to construct new ‘khokhas’ on alternative sites being offered by the corporation.

 

Rs 19 crore released to stem water loss to Pak
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, March 27
The authorities have finally woken to the need for repairs at the major headworks in the state. The Union Government has released Rs 19 crore for repairs at the Madhopur, Hussaniwala and Harike headworks to stop the loss of water to Pakistan.

The Executive Engineer, Irrigation, said repair of the Madhopur headworks would start as soon as the grant was received from the Union Government.

Sources said the Central Water Commission (CWC) had calculated that the state suffered a loss of Rs 33 lakh per cusec loss of water annually.

Punjab was losing water due to the poor condition of the Madhopur headworks. At Madhopur alone, the state was losing about 100 cusecs daily due to gates that have not been repaired for the past 10 years. Officials while speaking on the condition of anonymity, however, projected the loss of water at 300 cusecs.

As per the formula worked by the CWC, Punjab was suffering a loss of Rs 99 crore per annum.

The water retaining capacity of the Madhopur headworks has been reduced to just about 15,000 cusecs against the original 20,000 cusecs due to heavy silt deposition in the barrage area.

During monsoon, the authorities at the Ranjit Sagar dam had to release more than 20,000 cusecs. Due to decreased storage capacity at Madhopur, about 5,000 cusecs went to Pakistan almost daily during monsoon.

Silt deposition near the headworks was also adversely affecting the discharge in canals, including the Upper Bari Doab Canal comprising seven main and branch canals with a length of 400 km. The canal system also has 247 distributaries having a length of 2,400 km.

Another canal is the Beas link that is used to divert the Ravi waters to Rajasthan through the Harike barrage. The water carrying capacity of the canal is about 10,000 cusecs. However, due to the silt, the authorities are not in a position to release more than 4,000 cusecs in the canal.

The Madhopur headworks is part of one of the oldest and most effective irrigation systems of the country developed during the British rule.

 

Charles lays stone at Food Park
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 27
Prince Charles today laid the foundation stone of the headquarters of the Bhumi Vardaan Foundation at the Food Park Complex, G.T. Road, Sirhind, Fatehgarh Sahib, today.

The Prince of Wales Bhumi Vardaan Foundation to be established at the Food Park Complex is expected to help farmers of Punjab and the neighbouring states to work with the foundation and the infrastructure of the complex to undertake sustainable and environment-friendly farming.

Interestingly, the moment the Prince unveiled the plaque launching the Bhumi Vardaan Foundation, he could not help but notice the line that read: "The Prince of Wales's Bhoomi Vardaan Foundation". He was seen pointing the anomaly in the naming of the Foundation to the Punjab Chief Minister.

Prince Charles visited Punjab Agri Ventures Limited (PVML) Food Park, India's most sophisticated integrated vegetable and fruit processing unit having a facility of 500 MT frozen storage and 5000 MT cold storage. The Punjab Agri-Food Parks Ltd. is being developed as a joint venture between Punjab Agro-Industries Corporation and Dr P K Aggarwal, NRI of Idma Group.

As soon as Prince Charles accompanied by Capt Amrinder Singh, Chief Minister, and his caravan landed at Fatehgarh Sahib, normal life came to standstill and a curfew-like situation prevailed. Traffic was stopped on all the roads leading to Fatehgarh Sahib and all shops on GT Road Sirhind up to Sadhugarh were closed. The railway crossing in Sirhind remained open.

All roads and the area from where the caravan of Prince Charles passed had been renovated and given a new look. Policemen were very courteous. A lower rank officer said they wanted to give the impression that the Punjab police was very polite and well behaved as people from the British media interacted with some of the officers. At exact 12.30 pm, Prince Charles along with others reached Fatehgarh Sahib and went to Samsher Nagar village in a grey Mercedes.

Capt Amarinder Singh accompanied him in the car. Prince Charles, who himself is a farmer for the past 15 years and has converted his own farm totally organic, interacted with the family of Kapoor Singh, whose sons Gurdev Singh and Jharmal Singh are into floriculture on their 1.25-acre land.

They told the Prince that six months' yield of marigolds fetched them around Rs 70,000 and after incurring expenses of Rs 20,000 they earned a profit of Rs 50,000 per season. They sow vegetables for the other six months and after incurring Rs 5000 as expenses they manage to make a profit of Rs 30,000. Thus they earn Rs 80,000 per season from 1.25 acres. They also sell 12 kg milk at the rate of Rs15 per kg daily from their three buffaloes and earn an additional income of Rs 5,000 per month. Prince Charles was highly impressed and heard them with attention.

The visit of Prince Charles got the benefit of getting grants for development of villages from the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister sanctioned a grant of Rs 11 lakh for Samsher Nagar village. Rs.6.05 lakh would be spent on street lighting from Gurdwara Jyoti Sawrup Sahib to the village, Rs3.5 Lakh for the construction of a park near the cremation ground, Rs 60,000 on the brick-paved entry to Kapoor Singh's house, and Rs 40,000 for vermiculture units.

The Chief Minister also sanctioned a grant of Rs 60.89 lakh for Bhatmajra. As much as Rs 41 lakh would be for complete sewerage, Rs10 lakh for boundary wall and steps in stadium, Rs 2 lakh for the boundary wall of school, Rs 2.77 lakh repair and renovation of SC dharmshala, Rs1.20 lakh for the boundary wall of the cremation ground, Rs1.92 lakh for the SC cremation ground and Rs 2 lakh for streetlights in the village.

 

Charles advocates change in farm practices
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 27
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne, today while expressing concern over the trend of Punjab farmers committing suicide, advocated a change in the farming practice to make agriculture sustainable.

Addressing a gathering in the local Yadavindra Public School (YPS) stadium after the formal launching of the Bhumi Vardaan Foundation, an NGO set up for the promotion of organic farming in the state, Prince Charles, whose speech was also translated in Punjabi, said, "I am appalled by what I have heard today about the terrifying number of farmers who, having become so ensnared in a vicious spiral of debt and declining incomes, have been driven to take their own lives."

"So, if we do not heed these warnings, I fear we all face a bleak and barred future," he pointed out. He added that the dramatic fall in the water table and declining crop yields would have frightening implications.

Prince Charles, who has been practising organic farming and running a food company "Duchy Originals" in the United Kingdom (UK), said if Punjab was to remain the food basket of India, the farming practice must change as the prevailing practices were unsustainable.

"It would be tragic if the wonderful countryside I have seen today could no longer support the families who have farmed there for generations. It would be disaster if this great state could not continue to feed the people of India. And it would be terrifying if a lack of sustainable livelihood further increased the remorseless drift of people to the unmanageable slums of the big cities. The economic and social repercussions of this are too serious to contemplate," warned Prince Charles.

Expressing faith in the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit and skills of Punjabis, he said that he had great hopes that Punjabis would be able to meet these challenges successfully. He added that Bhumi Vardaan would play a meaningful role in promoting sustainable agriculture in Punjab and ensuring viable way of life on the land not only for today's farmers but for future generations.

Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh said that rate of incidences of cancer and cases of skin diseases were on rise in those pockets of Punjab where the chemical based pesticides and insecticides were being used rampantly to increase the quantum of agriculture produce.

He added that Punjab government had taken up pro active steps to encourage the farmers to shift their mindset from the traditional wheat paddy cultivation cycle to other more eco-friendly crops with a better remunerative potential. The Organic Farming Council of Punjab would establish two demonstration farms at Ropar and Ludhiana.

Mr Avtar Singh Dhindsa, a progressive farmer of this region, who also addressed the gathering, said today the Punjab's agriculture was at the crossroads despite the fact that Punjab's economy revolved around agriculture.

Later, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla Parker Bowles planted saplings in the pots in the stadium.

 

Squall disrupts royal dinner
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 27
A high-velocity squall, which hit the city this evening, disrupted the well laid out plans of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to hold a royal dinner for the Prince of Wales and his wife.

Minutes after the royal couple - Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles - reached New Moti Bagh, the private residence of the Chief Minister, for dinner, a severe dust-storm hit the city and swept away the roof of the "pandal", tables, chairs and cutlery and forced the harried organisers to chalk out to new plans on the spur of the moment.

Capt Amarinder Singh had engaged a five-star hotel - Raddison Windsor - to tickle the taste buds of the select guests. A big pandal was erected in the sprawling lawns of the New Moti Bagh Palace where the invitees were to be served with a mix of Indian and continental dishes and Punjabi delicacies.

The organisers were taken aback and put the policemen who were on security duty to physically hold the pandal firmly intact and drinks which were to be served in the pandal, were shifted indoors.

Whether the squall damaged some food items or not could not be confirmed. Even the power supply went off for some minutes, giving an even bigger scare to the organisers.

Meanwhile, the army band played different tunes to keep the guests enthralled despite the inclement weather conditions which threatened to put a dampener on the programme.

 

Visit touches lives
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 27
It was not just the Prince’s day out. Prince Charles’ visit to this town today left many lives touched.

While 16 lucky students of two rural schools here dressed as scouts and guides got a lot of attention from the Prince, another set of students of the Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College got to perform bhangra for the Prince through his entire round of village Bhat Majra.

“Prince Charles is the future King of England”, said a well informed Jaspreet Kaur, a class VII student of Shahid Lalit Kumar Government Elementary School, Jhavera. The bubbly crowd uniformed at scouts and guides included Hardeep, Lakhvinder, Harinder, Gurmukh, Shivnish, Taranjit, Gurpreet, Dilbar, Neelam Bano, Manisha, Gurpreet, Sarabjit, Sarpreet and Jasbir all students of class VII and VIII. Their wait bore fruit and the Prince Charming stopped to interact with them and had sweets distributed to them.

The engineering students of the college had been preparing Bhangra steps for almost a fortnight. “We are the only ones from the village who get to move with the prince. The security arrangements are so strict. But we have permission to be with him,” said an excited Jasvir. “The group who performed for the Prince includes Sukhjinder, Gurdial, Sehbaaz, Kuljit, Satwant, Rajkumar Dholi, Gurpreet Singh Gogi and Lovely,” said Prof Kanwar Deepak Kumar the college teacher accompanying them.

“We have performed on many stages and won the university competition for Bhangra but today is special we never imagined that we would be face to face with royalty,” said Rajkumar the Doli with the troupe.

The Prince’s visit touched many other lives too. “Today is a historical day for me. A day which would be remembered by our family for years to come,” said an ecstatic Master Mohan Singh, a school teacher in whose house the Prince was a guest.

“We were not sure he would actually come to our small and humble abode. But he came and we were waiting with garlands. He sat in the drawing room and we offered him barfi which he liked. We also offered coffee but he refused. He asked me about my family members and I introduced them to him,” he said.

 

Down shutters, says mandal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 27
The Patiala Beopar Mandal has given a call to shopkeepers having their business premises on the route scheduled to be taken by Prince Charles when he visits Quila Mubarak tomorrow to down shutters in protest against the government’s inaction on their demands.

Mr Nirmal Dass Malhotra, president of the mandal, said the state government had been turning a blind eye to their long-pending demands, which included abolition of octroi and removal of sales tax barriers.

He said shopkeepers had been feeling harassed after the municipal corporation hiked its shop licence fee from Rs 100 to Rs 1,000.

 

Mann urges UK to accept Sikhs' rights
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 27
The high-profile visit of Prince Charles to this erstwhile princely city was not without political ramifications, with the SAD (Amritsar) President, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, urging the Prince of Wales to convince the British Government to accept the Sikhs' right to self-determination.

Even as rumours were thick since morning that hundreds of SAD (Amritsar) activists, who had assembled at Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib this afternoon, might disturb the visit of Prince Charles, the District Administration accepted the memorandum through the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jagwant Singh Brar. In the process, the District Administration made sure that the activists would not disturb the Prince's visit scheduled later for the day at the Yadavindra Public School.

The memorandum was submitted after SAD (A) members performed ardas at the gurdwara.

The six-page memorandum, a copy which has also been sent to the British High Commission in New Delhi by registered post, said: "We are seriously concerned about the lack of British interest in the affairs of the Sikh nation in India. While the British government has intervened in various parts of the world to uphold UN principles, covenants and treaties, our agony and pain have been left untouched for the last two decades."

It added: "India is virtually at war with the Sikh people. Since 1984, thousands have been killed, tortured, imprisoned and have disappeared involuntarily. While the British government has taken up the cause of human rights in Argentina, Afghanistan, Iraq and China, we have been left to fend for ourselves. No tear has been shed for us and the Indian government has been allowed to go scot-free on all counts of violation of human rights."

The memorandum also mentioned that the Indian government should not continue to arrest people with impunity and that the British government should take immediate long term measures to ensure that the rule of law is upheld in Commonwealth countries.

Mr Mann ended the memorandum by urging Prince Charles to set up a Sikh brigade in the British army on the pattern of the Gorkha Regiment and hire the best talent from Punjab.

 

Mohali spruced up
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 27
The police carried out an elaborate security rehearsal here on the eve of the visit of Prince Charles.

The DIG of the Ludhiana Range, Mr Parag Jain, inspected the helipad and other locations connected with the royal visit.

Prince Charles and Camila Parker are scheduled to visit the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) here.

The DIG said that Head of the State-level security was being provided by the Punjab police for which rehearsal was being carried out. About 400 police personnel had been deployed along with officers of different ranks requisitioned from various districts under the supervision of the local SP, Mr Varinder Pal Singh. Various other details regarding security were being worked out.

Mr Gurdial Singh, SP, who would be looking after the traffic arrangements, said that traffic would be diverted from Chawla Chowk in Phase VII as no traffic would be allowed on the road leading from Yadavindra Public School (YPS) to Sohana and on the road leading from Phase VII to Phase XI till the dividing road of Phase X and XI. Similarly, the road from the cremation ground towards Phase XI would also be closed for traffic from near Phase VII to Phase XI. No traffic would be allowed on the road leading from Sector 45, Chandigarh towards Mohali. However, the SP said that traffic would be stopped for only about 20 minutes before the arrival of the royal guest so that public was not put to inconvenience.

 

Punjab economy on sound footing: Punjab CS
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
The Punjab Governor Gen. S.F. Rodrigues (retd), today called upon economists, planners and administrators to evolve an implementable action plan to showcase Punjab as a role model for economic resurgence and a state vigorously pursuing economic reforms.

He said that this reform process must guide our endeavour for the evolution of a new economic structure, strong and vibrant, to meet the growing needs of a developing country. The Governor was addressing the inaugural session of the Stanford India Policy Reforms Conference.

A panel of more than 20 top experts and 150 participants, drawn from senior functionaries in the Punjab Government, industry, academia, economics and eminent personalities of the state are participating in the conference.

This is being organised by the Punjab Government in collaboration with Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Reform (SIEPR), Stanford University and the Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), Silicon Valley Headquarters, USA. This conference aims to provide a platform for interaction between state-level policy makers, researchers from Stanford University, senior members from business community and other stake holders involved in the overall policy, planning and economic development not only of the state but the entire region.

Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhnapal, in his welcome address said the Punjab Government had taken a number of initiatives to strengthen our economic fundamentals and improve the productive efficiency of our systems. He said the Punjab economy which got de-railed due to decade long militancy in 90s, had been put on right track by taking various progressive measures. He said Punjab would achieve the growth rate of 6 per cent during the current year.

Prof Roger Noll, Director, Standford Center for International Development, in his keynote address touched upon different factors, which contribute towards sustainable economic growth and emphasised the need of more progressive measures, fostering constructive interaction and private-public partnership to achieve the economic resurgence and productive global economic sustainability.

Mr B.R. Bajaj, Principal Secretary, Information Technology, said that this two-day conference would dwell on different fields of social economic development which would be addressed by distinguished experts in different fields. This two-day conference is being attended by Vice-Chancellors of various universities, foreign delegates, former and serving bureaucrats and economists of international fame.

During the sessions held through the day, various departments of the Punjab Government — Power, Housing and Urban Development, Punjab Infrastructure Development Board, Industries made presentations. Top industrialists like Mr Suresh Neotia, Chairman of Gujarat Ambuja Cements and Mr Rajinder Gupta of Trident Group, Mr Rakesh Bharti Mittal ( Bharti Group) also spoke on the occasion.

 

SAD petition: Governor seeks AG’s advice
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
Acting on a petition seeking disqualification of 34 ruling Congress MLAs, the Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (Retd), has sought advice of the Advocate General, Mr R.S. Cheema.

The petition was submitted to the Governor by the Shiromani Akali Dal yesterday. Informed sources in the Punjab Government said that the Governor had referred the SAD petition to Mr Cheema, this afternoon.

Mr Cheema has been asked to advise if the offices held by these 34 MLA’s, were lawfully exempted from the category of “an office of profit”. It may be mentioned that many of these MLAs are holding offices of Chairperson in various boards and corporation of the state government.

Sources said, the copy of the petition along with constitutional points raised by the SAD, had been forwarded to Mr Cheema. Sources said that the Governor’s office had been given to understand that the offices held by these MLAs were duly exempted from being termed as “ an office of profit”.

The SAD had quoted constitutional provisions in its petition saying even where an exemption had been granted by a state legislature, the number of such beneficiaries cannot exceed 2 per cent of the total strength of the MLAs of the party.

In Punjab’s case, more than 50 per cent of the legislators belonging to the ruling party were enjoying the status as holders of offices of profit and some of them had even been given the status of either Cabinet Minister or Minister of State. The petition was signed by two general secretaries of the SAD, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Captain Kanwaljit Singh.

 

Decision on minority status to DAV institutes endorsed
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 27
Guru Nanak Dev University syndicate today endorsed the decision of the state government to enforce UGC/state government's norms while selecting Principals, lecturers in all the DAV Colleges, thus ending their 'minority status', enjoyed by the management in Punjab for the last about 35 years.

The syndicate meeting presided over by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, here, said that in the light of the directions of the state government the DAV institutes will have to make fresh appointments of Principals and faculty members after the judgement of the Supreme Court.

The syndicate, however, gave one month's time to DAV management to furnish signatures of Principals. The university would accept no signature after the cut-off date, fixed by the state government.

The syndicate, however, decided to regularize all the appointments made by the DAV management before the judgement of the Supreme Court provided they were eligible for the posts.

Reacting sharply to the decision, Mr D.R. Gupta, Director, DAV Colleges, New Delhi, told The Tribune that the decision of the state and its endorsement by the varsity syndicate was neither on merit nor in the spirit of the Supreme Court judgement pronounced in October 2002.

He said that after the formation of GNDU, DAV Management apprehended that its (DAV's) distinct identity could be threatened by the new university and hence they sought affiliation with Panjab University instead . He said DAV Management would contest the decision of state and syndicate at an appropriate platform.

Earlier, DPI (Colleges) had sent communication to all the Principals of the DAV colleges to meticulously implement the directions of the state government regarding appointments and transfers of the employees, etc, to claim grant-in-aid .The DPI had also directed the Principals to supply entire date with regard to appointments and transfers after 1981.

It may be mentioned here that the Coordination Committee of Vice Chancellors presided over by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, had decided to enforce UGC/state government's norms while selecting Principals, lecturers in all the DAV Colleges last month, ending their 'minority status', enjoyed by the management in Punjab for the last about 35 years.

Henceforth, it would be mandatory for DAV institutes to have nominees of VCs and DPI as per UGC norms, in their selection committees as decided by the syndicate. The decision was taken the decision on the basis of the legal opinion sought from Legal Remembrance.

The decision of the state government has also come as a big jolt for Sikh, Jain and Christian educational institutions in the state which had been demanding 'minority status' on the pattern of DAV Colleges .

Mr D.R. Gupta, Director, DAV Colleges, said that it was shocking that the state government was 'misguided' on the minority status, being enjoyed by the DAV educational institutes in Punjab since 1970s.

POLITICS
 

Sukhbir Badal attacks Amarinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh/ Patiala, March 27
The former Union Minister and general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, while referring to the signing of the Amritsar declaration, today described the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, as “an opportunist of the highest order”.

In a separate development in Patiala, the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, submitted a memorandum urging Prince Charles to convince the British Government to accept the right of Sikhs to self-determination. The district administration accepted the memorandum through the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jagwant Singh Brar.

Hundreds of SAD (Amritsar) activists had assembled at Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib this afternoon where the memorandum was presented. The district administration made sure that none of the activists disturbed the visit of the Prince, scheduled later in the day at Yadavindra Public School.

Mr Badal said that Capt Amarinder Singh and his brother-in-law, Mr Mann, had been in league with each other only to befool the people of the state. Mr Badal alleged “ that Capt Amarinder Singh was planted among the Akali ranks by the then intelligence agencies”.

Capt Amarinder Singh seriously pursued the idea of “Khalistan”, swearing in front of Akal Takht to fight for a separate, sovereign state outside of India. Apart from Mr Mann, several known protagonists of “Khalistan” like Jasbir Singh Rode also swore by a separate state along with him.

Mr Badal went on to allege that Capt Amarinder Singh “changed colours every time political trends changed”. Mr Badal also took exception to the display of paintings and pictures of former monarchs of the British Empire in Patiala during the visit of Prince Charles. “These monarchs were against patriots like Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Mahatma Gandhi”, he added.

Mr Badal said Prince Charles should be welcomed as a prospective head of state and not as a former ruler of this country. He, however, clarified that his party welcomed Prince Charles as a distinguished guest of honour.

The six-page memorandum of Mr Mann, a copy which has also been sent to the British High Commission in New Delhi by post, said that “we are seriously concerned about the lack of British interest in the affairs of the Sikh nation in India”.

While welcoming the move by Prince Charles to visit Sikh historical and cultural centres and sites, Mr Mann demanded that the international community should carry out the mapping of heritage and archaeological sites in Punjab and ensure that the government does not tamper with these.

Mr Mann urged Prince Charles to set up a Sikh Brigade in the British army on the pattern of the Gurkha Regiment and hire the best talent from Punjab.

 

Corruption at all-time high under Cong rule: Badal
Our correspondent

Ferozepore, March 27
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal, today said the moment the Akali Dal-BJP combine returned to power in the state, Capt. Amarinder Singh and his coterie would be put behind bars as they had crossed all limits of corruption.

He was addressing a gathering of Akali leaders, workers and supporters here.

The Akali Dal had organised, a “ Congress Bhagao- Punjab Bachao” rally here in which besides Mr. Badal , a galaxy of Akali-BJP stalwarts participated. The rally, which was first of the series was organised by Mr. Janmeja Singh Sekhon, president, Akali Dal, Ferozepore.

Mr Badal, while terming the present Congress regime as “Raja-Rana” rule, stated that the Akalis would give a befitting reply to the political vendetta unleashed by Capt. Amarinder Singh who wanted to settle personal scores with him as he was denied the Akali ticket.

Mr Badal said his government had made concerted efforts to improve power generation by sanctioning projects like Ranjit Singh Dam, Lehra Mohhabbat and Shahpur Kandi while Congress had not been able to produce even 1MW of electricity. He said that even the Rs 16000 crore Bathinda oil refinery project could not see the light of the day due to the lackadaisical attitude of the Congress.

In his address, Mr Zora Singh Mann, MP, while expressing concern about the plight of farmers in the state, stated that the current rise in inflation, if remained unchecked would break the backbone of the common man especially the farmers of the state.

 

Punjab on verge of collapse: Kanwaljit
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, March 27
Training his guns on the Amarinder Singh government for its “anti-people policies”, a senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today alleged that the state was on the verge of economic collapse.

Talking to reporters at Hamayunpur village near here, the Akali leader alleged that Punjab had a debt to the tune of Rs 53,350 crore which was playing havoc with the financial health of the state.

Alleging that the developmental works had come to a standstill in the state, Capt Kanwaljit Singh claimed that 95,000 posts were laying vacant for the past about four years. There was discontent among all sections of society, including the farmers, the youth, the trading community and the Dalits.

Instead of focusing their attention on the development front, the state government was busy in highlighting its “achievements” through the media at the cost of the state exchequer.

Claiming that the flight of the industry from the state continues unabated on account of the “lopsided” government policies, the former minister alleged that the privatisation of various departments by the Punjab Government would deal a death knell to them.

 

Jagmeet gets supporter in Mann
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 27
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), has asked All-India Congress Committee President Sonia Gandhi not to take any action against Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, special invitee to the Congress Working Committee (CWC), on the complaint made to her by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for allegedly levelling allegations of corruption against the state government publicly.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Mann said his party advised Ms Sonia Gandhi not to take any action against Mr Brar if the Congress was really a democratic party as any one could express his views in a democratic set-up.

Mr Mann alleged that nobody, including Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, opposed the Chief Minister, but if his (Mann’s) party spoke against him or his government, the Chief Minister got cases registered against him and his party leaders.

 

Kainth for special Parliament session
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 27
Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM) national president Satnam Singh Kainth has demanded the summoning of a special Parliament session for an open debate and discussion on the issue of “posts of benefits” involving several MLAs and MPs.

Addressing a new conference before presiding over a workers conference here Mr Kainth said UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had initiated a new debate by resigning from the Lok Sabha herself, and all beneficiaries of all political parties should follow Ms Gandhi and come forward to resign from their respective posts.

He expressed his apprehensions that the country was moving towards mid-term poll and facing a confusing political situation.

The BSM president alleged that the BSP had failed to protect the rights and interests of the Dalits and Ms Mayawati was adopting a dictatorial attitude for her selfish interests.

Commenting on the Punjab situation, he said the BSM would become a big political power in the coming days as a majority of Dalits and weaker sections was coming under the banner of the morcha.

COMMUNITY
 

13 MCs meet SDM, present ‘election meeting proceedings’
“Document” not legal, says SDM

Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 27
Despite postponement of the election meeting of the Municipal Council by the administration on March 25, 13 Municipal Councillors (MCs), out of total 21, who on March 25 elected unanimously Ms Simrat Rana Punia, (Independent) as president, Mr Moti Lal (Congress) as senior vice-president and Mr Sajjan Ram, (Shiromani Akali Dal) as junior vice-president of the council, today met the convener of the meeting-cum-SDM to hand over new proceedings book and new attendance register of the March 25 meeting to him for sending it to the Punjab government for approval.

Out of these 13 MCs, four belong to the Congress, three to the BJP, one to the SAD and five MCs are independents. Earlier these four Congress MCs were supporting the ruling Congress in the council.

The SDM declined to accept the new attendance Register and new proceedings book from the 13 MCs. He accepted photostat copies of both “documents” from the MCs. Mr Gurtej Singh, SDM, Sangrur, said as the meeting of the council had been postponed, and the meeting, held by these 13 MCs, was illegal and both “documents” were also not legal. Due to the postponement of the meeting even photo copies of these “documents” could not be sent to the government for approval, he added.

On the other hand Mr Jatinder Kalra, a BJP MC, who conducted proceedings as chairman of the meeting on March 25, said there were 22 members, including the MLA, who could take part in the elections of the council. As 13 MCs were present on the day in the meeting who had elected unanimously president, senior and junior vice-presidents of the council, this meeting could not be termed as “illegal” as the Punjab Municipal Act 1911 says “There is no power with the state government to adjourn a meeting called for the election of a President. Once the process of elections has been set in motion, it should be allowed to complete its course”.

He also claimed that as per the Punjab Municipal Act if no officer came to conduct the election meeting then the members had the right to elect a chairman to conduct the election meeting.

Mr Kalra said today also they submitted photo copies of the proceedings book and attendance register to the Executive Officer of the local MC when he declined to accept both original documents.

He said today they even submitted photo of both documents to the offices of the Director and Deputy Director, Local Government, besides the office of the Sangrur Deputy Commissioner to seek justice.

 

IAF to motivate youth to join force
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 27
The Indian Air Force would induce officers in all branches of the force and target educational institutions to motivate the youth to join the force, stated Air Marshal A.K. Singh, AOC-in-C, Western Air Command, while addressing a press conference here today.

He said the IAF required officers at various levels and it had become important to launch a systematic recruitment drive. He said the IAF had started showcasing its pro-people face to ensure more interaction with the civilians. He said youth were showing more inclination to join other vocations and it was imperative for the IAF to motivate them to join the elite force.

“We are trying to tell young men and women that there was no parallel to the Air Force as it provided immense satisfaction and better pay packets. The IAF is the way of life,” he added.

Answering a query on the reliability of the MiG 21 planes, he stated that the Air Force had grounded all those machines which had outlived their technical worthiness.

Talking about proposals to strengthen the Air Force, he said they had already inducted one squadron of multirole ALH (Advanced Light Helicopter), Dhruva, and introduction of three more squadrons was on the cards.

He said the Air Force was strong enough to take on any challenge and had all the modern equipment to deal with any modern warfare.

Various welfare steps were also taken to improve the quality of life of the IAF personnel.

 

‘Eunuchs make better politicians’
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, March 27
Rejected by the society, eunuchs are trying to find solace in their own company. They have formed various groups and special functions are organised where only eunuchs are allowed.

One such function in which over 1,000 eunuchs from across the country participated culminated here today. For the 12-day function, local head of the eunuchs Raji Mahant hired two marriage palaces for the participants.

The entry to the venue was restricted to just eunuchs. Mahant says for the most of their lives eunuchs dance and beg from people and are seen as a deformed part of the society and abhorred in general. Such functions are the only time when they try to remain happy forgetting every thing, Mahant adds.

The election of eunuchs to posts of mayor and block samiti members in Madhya Pradesh has kindled some hope in them. Mahant says due rampant corruption by politicians the eunuchs can serve as better alternatives to the existing political leaders. The eunuchs will not resort to any kind of corruption, as they do not have to accumulate wealth for their children or future.

Mahant, who was also the organiser of the function, distributed gold coins among the participants besides bearing the expense of their luxurious stay. Five gold crowns were also given away to eunuch leaders from across the country.

Local politicians also did not miss the chance to visit the function with an eye on their votes. Large number of politicians, including former minister Mohan Lal and Congress MLA and chairman of the PTDC Ashok Sharma visited the venue.

The eunuchs today carried out a rally through the town on decorated vehicles to mark the end of the function.

 

Setting up of medical societies criticised
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 27
The Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association (PSMDTA), has in a resolution, strongly opposed the setting up of the proposed medical societies to run the government medical and dental colleges in the state.

In a press statement issued here, Dr Avtar Singh Padda, president, and Dr Baljit Singh Dhillon, press secretary, PSMDTA, said the association would boycott these societies.

He said the association resolved not to work with the societies under any circumstances. He said the apex body resolved that the process of registration of the societies should be stopped with immediate effect otherwise they would be forced to launch an agitation to stop the process.

 

Doctors hold protest rally
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 27
The Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association staged a protest rally here today at Government Medical College against the move of the state government to hand over the administration of medical colleges in the state to the societies.

The association submitted a memorandum to Dr A.S. Padda, officiating Principal, against the move of the government to privatise the medical institutions.

Dr Tejbir Singh, state coordinator, talking to The Tribune said that various organisations representing the Punjab Civil Medical services, junior doctors, paramedical staff, Ministerial staff, nurses , Class IV employees and medical students, had opposed this move in the name of autonomy. He said there was great apprehension about further deterioration of the medical and dental institutions.

Dr Singh said the health services for the common man would become costlier which would further result in an increase in the annual fee for the medical study. He said at present a student had to pay Rs 13,000 only and if these colleges were handed over to societies it could go up to Rs 2 lakh per annum.

He said the association had resolved to continue the protest keeping in view the interest of the teachers, staff of the institutions and students.

 

Docs, staff decry govt move
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 27
The Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association today staged a protest rally here at Government Medical College against the move of the state government to hand over the administration of medical colleges in the state to the private institutions.

The association also submitted a memorandum to Dr A.S. Padda, officiating Principal, against the move of the state government to privatise the medical institutions in the state.

 

JPMO holds rally
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 27
On a call of the Joint Platform of Mass Organisations (JPMO), hundreds of persons today held a rally at the local Kaula Park Market, took out a march through the town and held a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here in support of their 21 demands.

The demands of the protesters included control over rising prices, stoppage of privatisation of public sector undertakings (PSUs), scrapping of the Central Electricity Act-2000, withdrawal of hike in the prices of diesel, petrol and LPG, declaration of employment as a fundamental right, revival of abolished subsidies for the agriculture sector, lifting of ban on recruitment, regularisation of services of daily wage earners, control over excesses by the police on innocent persons, and uninterrupted power supply to houses, industry and agriculture sectors in the state.

The protesters were addressed among others by Mr Sukhdev Singh Barri, state convener of the JPMO; Mr Tarsem Jodhan, general secretary, Punjab Bhatha Mazdoor Union; Mr Amar Singh, general secretary of the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha; Mr Sher Singh Farwahi, president of the Dehati Mazdoor Sabha, Punjab; Mr Lal Singh Dhanaula, district president of the Punjab Subordinate Services Federation; Mr Mann Singh, district president of the Lal Bhatha Mazdoor Union; and Mr Gurmail Maholi, a leader of agriculture workers.

 

Rotary comes to the aid of poor girl
Tribune News Service

Kharar, March 27
It was impossible for electrician Rakesh Kumar to arrange Rs 1,10,000 for the heart valve replacement of his 10 year-old-daughter Rajni Bala at the PGI.

Rakesh was very upset and depressed because of his inability to arrange money. He met Dr Chanderdeep Verma, president, Rotary Club, Kharar, for financial help.

Members of the Kharar club and others manage to collect Rs 40,000. However, Dr Verma and project chairman Pawan Kumar contacted the Rotary Club, Chandigarh, for support. Mr Kewal Seth, project chairman of “Gift of Life” of the Rotary Club, Chandigarh, agreed to help Rakesh in getting his daughter treated at the PGI.

Rajni Bala was operated by cardio-thoracic surgeon Dr S.S. Rana on March 10, 2006 and was discharged from the hospital on March 17.

 

Stone laid for sports stadium
Our correspondent

Batala, March 27
A district-level function was organised here yesterday at Government Polytechnic Kahnuwan road, which was attended by Industries Minister Ashwani Kumar, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Parliamentary Secretary Ashwani Sekhri, Punjab State Youth Congress chief Amla and other Congress leaders.

The function was organised to lay the foundation stone of Rajiv Gandhi Stadium. The stadium is to be constructed with modern facilities for training of athletes.

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, in her address, called upon the youth to come forward and fight separatism, backwardness, parochialism and fanaticism. She distributed cheques worth Rs 1.25 crore among Municipal Councils and 63 villages of the area.

She laid down the foundation stone of the stadium. On the occasion, a huge gathering was present despite the rain. The police had made elaborate traffic management and security arrangements.

 

PSEB claims success in anti-theft drive
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 27
Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Chairman Y.S. Ratra has claimed that a drive launched by enforcement and operations wings of the board throughout the state had yielded good results.

According to Mr Ratra, the board had constituted 42 checking squads, which conducted raids to check power theft, slow metering and unauthorised extension of load.

M/s Zia International, a steel furnace at Sirhind, had been fined Rs 2 crore and about 70 more industrial units had been penalised at least Rs 1 lakh each by the enforcement wing, he added.

About Rs 45 crore had been recovered from consumers as penalty by the operations wing, he stated.

Mr Ratra said the board had decided to make raids a regular affair to curtail revenue losses.

 

Rs 1 lakh each for Jodhpur jail detainees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
The Punjab Government has sanctioned Rs 1 lakh for each of the Jodhpur jail detainees who were arrested during Operation Bluestar from the Golden Temple complex.

Stating this here today Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Revenue Minister, Punjab, said all 365 Jodhpur jail detainees had met him and said that the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had promised to give Rs 1 lakh to each detainee but he failed to fulfil his promise.

Mr Samra claimed that the Punjab Chief Minster, Capt Amarinder Singh, immediately accepted the request of the detainees.

 

Rs 4 crore for desilting of drains
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, March 27
The Punjab Government has approved Rs 4 crore for desilting of drains in the district. The first instalment of Rs 80 lakh has already been released, disclosed Animal Husbandry Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang while inaugurating a bus stand at Bhagsar village, near here, today.

The minister assured the farmers that desilting of all the drains would be completed before the monsoon this year.

Addressing a gathering, he said the Congress would bounce back to power with a thumping majority in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

He alleged that the previous SAD-BJP regime indulged in large-scale corruption, implicated innocent people in false cases and ruined the state’s economy. He claimed the government agencies were purchasing eight crops.

 

CPM condoles death of Anil Biswas
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 27
Local CPM leaders expressed their condolences over the demise of Anil Biswas, party’s Politburo member and CPM’s West Bengal State Committee Secretary.

Mr Vijay Mishra, member, state secretariat, CPM, said Mr Biswas was an ideologue, who steered the party through odd and favourable time.

 

Dental check-up programme
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 27
The Dentral Research Institute of Versatile Education in association with the Indian Dental Association, Punjab, will launch a state-level dental checkup programme and awareness campaign on April 1.

This month long programme will be simultaneously held in 10 cities of the state. Under the programme, about 5 lakh children would be covered throughout the state.

COURTS
 

High Court
State asked to file detailed affidavit
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 27
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the Punjab Government to file a detailed affidavit about the amount paid by it to the Municipal Corporation, Amritsar, in lieu of the excise duty arrears payable by it to the civic body. The affidavit would spell out the details of the amount due, the money paid and the date of payments received by the MC. The entire information would have to be submitted in a tabulated form from 2001-2002 till March 31, 2006.

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Surya Kant gave this direction during resumed hearing of the PIL filed by former Indian cricketer and Lok Sabha MP from Amritsar Navjot Singh Sidhu.

In his petition, Mr Sidhu has sought directions to the Congress government in Punjab to release Rs 34 crore to the MC as its share from taxes collected from there. He has alleged that the civic body is starved of funds for carrying out development works.

On the last hearing, Mr Sidhu had questioned the claim of the government vis-à-vis release of excise duty arrears. While the government had informed the court that it had already released the entire amount of Rs 148 crore that it owned to various civic bodies in the state, Mr Sidhu had claimed that the annual budget of the MC, Amritsar, presented on March 13, showed an arrear of Rs 19 crore as due from the government. Thereafter, the Bench had given one week's time to the government counsel to seek further instructions in the matter.

Today, Mr Sidhu's counsel again brought to the court's notice the inherent contradiction in the affidavits filed by the government and the civic body.

He stated that while the government has claimed that all arrears up to March 31, 2006, had been cleared and received by the civic body, the affidavit of the Additional Commissioner, MC, Amritsar, says that an amount of Rs 6.87 crore is still due from the government.

Pointing to the discrepancies, Mr Sidhu's counsel stated that the government had tried to mislead the court and contempt of court proceedings must be initiated against the erring officials.

The Bench later adjourned the matter to April 18.

Notice issued

The High Court on Monday issued notice of motion for May 15 to the Consumer Forum-II, Chandigarh, on the petition filed by advocate H.C. Arora.

In his petition, Mr Arora has challenged the jurisdiction of the Forum to entertain the complaint of a litigant against an advocate. Sometime back, another Division Bench of the High Court had directed the Forum to decide an objection raised by the petitioner against its jurisdiction in entertaining a complaint filed by one Ravi Sachdeva against Mr Arora. Thereafter, the Forum held that it did have the authority to hear the complaint.

In his petition, the decision in which could have far-reaching consequences for the legal fraternity, the advocate has stated that the relationship between an advocate and his client is governed by the vakalatnama, by which the client agrees to ratify all actions of the advocate. He has claimed that a client cannot accuse the advocate of deficiency in service.

After hearing him, the Bench of Mr Justice A.K. Goel and Mr Justice Uma Nath Singh issued notice of motion to the Forum.

 

Six get 3-yr RI in kidney scam

Amritsar, March 27
The local court today sentenced six persons to rigorous imprisonment for three years here. Charges have been framed against 16 persons, while 14 have been declared Proclaimed Offenders (PO).

The persons sentenced to three years’ RI were Umesh, Ravi Sahni, Kailash, Dalip Singh, Rajiv and Ravi Yadav. Charges have been framed against Dr Parveen Sareen, Dr O.P. Mahajan, Dr Jagdish Gargi, Dr P.K. Jain, Dr Bhushan Aggarwal, Dr Bhupinder Singh, Hardyal Mehta, former DSP Gurdial Ram, Pardeep Saini and Rajan Puri (both advocates), Sandeep Singh, Gaurav Ram, Chandan Singh, Anil Kumar and Raj Kumar. While Joseph, Raj Kumar, Laxman, Rajiv Mehra, Prem Kumar, Upinder Raj, Sheikh Amin, Pankaj Gupta, George, Chuni Lal, Raj Kumar and Gaurav have been declared POs.

The kidney racket worth Rs 100 crore had rocked the city a few years ago and its tentacles were found to be spread in several other states. — TNS

AGRICULTURE
 

Hailstorm hits crops in Fazilka-Jalalabad
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
Heavy damage has been caused to the rabi crops, including wheat, in the Fazilka-Jalalabad belt of Ferozepore district as a hailstorm accompanied with fast-blowing winds hit the area this afternoon. It is the second time in the past 72 hours that a hailstorm has lashed the crops, most of which are at the harvesting stage.

A farmer from Fazilka, Mr Ranbir Singh, told The Tribune on the phone that the hailstorm began around 5 p.m. and continued for about 15 minutes. He said that within a few minutes, wheat and other crops in the area were flattened. The villages, from where reports of heavy damage were received included Shatirwala, Sabuana, Jandwala, Sainia, Sureshwala, Vanwala, Bandiwala and Kheowalia Dab.

Mr Ranbir Singh said the hailstorm had struck at a time when farmers were about to start the harvesting of the wheat crop. “For farmers no situation can be worse than to see their crops damaged by a hailstorm at the ripening stage. Many farmers are in a state of shock”, he said.

Reports of heavy rain in the afternoon were received from Abohar, Bathinda and the adjoining areas. Obviously, the harvesting of wheat will be delayed for a week or so in the areas lashed by rain. District revenue officials have ordered a special girdawri in the areas hit by the hailstorm in the Fazilka belt, it is learnt. Patwaris have been told to visit the affected areas at the earliest possible to assess the damage.

Meanwhile, sources said that agriculture officials of Bathinda district had submitted a preliminary report regarding the damage caused to crops by the squall and hailstorm yesterday. They pegged the damage to the crops at more than 25 per cent. The Deputy Commissioner of Bathinda has also sought a report from the SDMs concerned, it is learnt. Among the villages hit by the hailstorm yesterday in Bathinda district are Natheha, Kalalwala, Phaggu and Mirzeana.

In Jalalabad subdivision four villages were affected the most by the hailstorm and squall yesterday. The SDM of Jalalabad, Mr Sohan Lal Bhumbak, told The Tribune on the phone today that these villages were Mohkam Arian, Pir Bux Chohan, Dhandi and Kahnewala. He said the damage to crops in these villages varied between 50 and 75 per cent. Damage to crops in the range of 75 per cent was considered a total loss. “I have submitted a report in this regard to the higher authorities,” he added.

CRIME
 

Principal attacked for not allowing copying
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 27
A member of the panchayat of village Saidpur here today allegedly attacked the Principal of Government Senior Secondary School for not allowing copying to his relative.

According to information, Chanan Singh, the member panchayat attacked Mr Lakhwinder Singh, Principal and superintendent of plus two examination centre with a sharp- edged weapon when she refused to open the gate of the examination centre.

However, Daljit Singh and Jasbir Singh, the other two teachers present caught hold of him.

The staff immediately reported the matter to police and sent written complaints to the authorities.

 

Attack on wildlife warden: police fails to nab assailants
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, March 27
Even after a week, when two armed youths attacked a former honorary wildlife warden, Hoshiarpur, and injured critically his security guard, the police has failed to arrest the assailants.

Injured security guard Ashok Kumar is a Punjab Police constable, whose jaws were broken in the attack.

Sources in the police revealed, the assailants were nabbed in less than 12 hours of the incident but let off under pressure from certain influential persons. Mr Ashok Kumar was on duty as security guard of Mr Gunraj Singh Saini on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Apprehending threat to life, Mr Saini had sought security from the Punjab Police and approached to the Punjab and Haryana High Court for it.

Mr Saini, who is also a prime witness in the Pathankot SDM poaching case, was attacked by two armed youths on March 20.

Armed with daggers two youths had attacked Mr Saini and left his bodyguard Ashok Kumar injured.

The victims were going in a car after closing Mr Gunraj Singh’s restaurant, located on the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh road at 12 noon when the assailants, Prabhjot Singh, a resident of DC Road, and Rakesh Kumar of Kacha Tobha in Hoshiarpur waved them to stop adjacent the Tehsil Complex. The assailants reportedly dragged the driver of the vehicle out and attacked him too.

They allegedly hit a brick on the face of Mr Ashok Kumar when he tried to defend Mr Saini. His jaws were damaged. The victims raised the alarm and the assailants escaped. Residents of the area assembled and nabbed Prabhjot Singh after a chase. He was handed over to the police.

After questioning Prabhjot, the police nabbed his accomplice, Rakesh Kumar but the two were let off after registering a case under Sections 341, 353, 186, 506 and 34 of the IPC against them.

Superintendent of Police (Headquarters) M.S. Sandhu, was reluctant to comment on the issue.

 

Corruption charges against 2 officers
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 27
An NGO, Performance Association, Punjab, levelled allegations of corruption against the Medical Officer and the Public Family Welfare Department officer today. The NGO alleged that the two officers concerned demanded money to allow them to perform a play against drug abuse under the Central Government scheme. It also submitted a complaint in this regard to the Civil Surgeon, Ropar, Mr Y.P. Singla.

The president of the NGO, Mr Amandeep Bhagat, in a press conference here, said the NGO was entitled to Rs 3,000 per show under the scheme funded by the Central Government. The officers concerned of Anandpur Sahib demanded money for the show.

The Civil Surgeon said he was conducting an inquiry into the allegation. If the allegations against the two officers were found to be true the complaint would be forwarded to the Vigilance Department, he added. The two officers, however, denied the allegations.

 

Four killed, 39 hurt in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 27
Four persons were killed and 39 injured when a bus went out of control after colliding with another bus near Samalsar today.

Sources said the accident occurred when a private bus belonging to Ravindra Bus Service, on its way from Moga to Kotkapura, collided with another bus coming from the opposite direction and dashed into a tree on the roadside.

The sources said while the driver of the other bus managed to keep control after the collision, the driver of Ravindra Bus Service lost control over the steering, which led to the accident.

Four persons were killed on the spot, while 39 other passengers of the bus were injured. However, no one was hurt in the other bus. The deceased have been identified as Gurdev Kaur of Madira Kalan, Makhan Singh of Malout and Reetu of Ladhaike. The fourth one was yet to be identified. The injured have

been admitted to the Moga Civil Hospital, while a woman has been referred to Ludhiana in a critical condition.

 

Robber’s arrest gives police hope
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 27
The police hopes to solve some highway petrol station robberies committed during the past three years in this subdivision with the arrest of Mukhtiar Singh of 49RB village in Raisinghnagar.

The Khuyiansarwar police had arrested Mukhtiar on a tipoff. Preliminary interrogation indicates that he was among three persons who targeted an IOC petrol station near Gumjal village on the Abohar-Sriganganagar national highway on April 5 last year, in which a salesman was killed.

Miscreants had also targeted petrol stations at Kallarkhera, Usmankhera and Khuyiansarwar on the same road besides others on the Seeto, Fazilka and Malout roads during the past three years. None of these cases has been solved.

The police hopes to make some breakthrough now, sources said.

 

One injured in jail clash
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 27
One Gurpal Singh Pala, a notorious criminal, was injured in the clash on the high-security Amritsar Central Jail premises when he was being taken to court for hearing. He was attacked by accomplices of another notorious criminal Paramjit Singh Pamma.

The jail authorities confirmed the incident and added that they could not ascertain the reason behind the incident, as Pala had not returned from hearing. He was sent for hearing after giving first-aid. However, the sources said the incident was the outcome of old enmity between the two. Earlier, Pamma was attacked by the accomplices of Pala. No case was registered till the filing of report.

EDUCATION
 

Plea to make Sanskrit compulsory
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 27
The Vedas contain knowledge not only about dharma (religion) but also about modern science and technology. Thus, there is a great need to understand the Vedas in their original form written in Sanskrit. These observations were made by Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar of Guru Nanak Dev University.

Dr Bawa was delivering presidential remarks at the concluding session of two-day national seminar on the Contribution of Punjab to Sanskrit Literature organised by the Sanskrit Department .

Dr Bawa suggested that the study of Sanskrit be made compulsory at undergraduate level. The syllabus of Sanskrit should be reviewed and its study be made compulsory to strengthen the knowledge of other languages like Hindi and Punjabi. The UK has already set up a centre for Sanskrit studies . Indonesia too is vibrant about this ancient language that has hidden mysteries that were enshrined and could not emerge due to absence of interest in the medium of its script i.e. Sanskrit.

Dr Jasbir Singh Sabar, eminent scholar, said to link Sanskrit with the common people, a study of Sanskrit should be encouraged. He deplored that this divine language having valuable literature had been ignored.

Dr Lekh Ram and Dr Renu Bala said more than 30 papers were presented by eminent Sanskrit scholars and the papers presented would be published in a book form. 

 

Seminar on network technologies opens
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 27
A three-day national seminar-cum-workshop on “Network technologies” started at Maharaja Ranjit Singh Auditorium of Guru Nanak Dev University here today. The Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, inaugurated the workshop.

This seminar-cum-workshop was organised by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of the university under the Industry Institute Partnership Cell (IIPC) duly sponsored by the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), New Delhi.

Dr S.P. Singh emphasised the importance of network solutions in the educational institutions and need to train manpower in the area as this was one of the fastest growing technologies and the need of the time, he added. The Vice-Chancellor also released the CD and brochure of the seminar on this occasion.

 

Annual function at school
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 27
Dhudial Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Bishan Nagar, organised its annual prize distribution function on the school premises here today.

Tiny tots took part in a fancy dress competition, Punjabi skits, bhangra and giddha.

The annual results of the school were announced and certificates were awarded to students who stood first, second and third in various examinations.

The function was presided over by Mr Inder Mohan Singh Bajaj, president of the Patiala unit of the SAD.

The vice-president of the school management committee, Mr Lochan Singh Kohli, exhorted students to excel in academics and sports.

The director of the school, Mr Sher Singh, presented the annual school report.

He said computer education had been made compulsory from Class I at the school.

The secretary of the school management committee, Dr Harbans Singh, was present.

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