P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sikh conclave’s ultimatum to govt
Vedanti calls for “extreme step” against Editor
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 29
The Sikh conclave, convened by the SGPC here today, served an ultimatum on the state government to withdraw criminal cases against Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar Damdama Sahib, and his associates who had gone to stop the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib at Baluana or face a protest march by the Sikh sangat.

The conclave took a surprise turn when Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, quoting from Guru Gobind Singh's Zaffzarnama, called upon the youth to take "extreme step" against the Editor of Spokesman, a daily published from Mohali, who had already been excommunicated.

Taking serious note of this call, Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, urged the Sikh youths not to get swayed by such statements which had already caused great loss to the Panth.

He said such leaders who encourage violence themselves lived under the security umbrella and tended to "sacrifice the common persons" for their vested interests.

He asked why Jathedar Vedanti had failed to take action against Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna who continued to have links with the Editor even after his excommunication. Jathedar Vedanti said those who compelled him to issue hukamnamas, later failed to cooperate to implement the same.

Interestingly, the media was not allowed to attend the conclave. Speakers used harsh language against Mr Joginder Singh.

A resolution passed on the occasion stated that various Sikh organisations and Nihang Singh Jathas assured the SGPC to support the hukamnama of Akal Takht against Spokesman. They demanded that the SGPC must constitute a committee of experts to fight a legal war against the daily which was working against the philosophy of Guru Granth Sahib, Sikh Panth and rehat maryada. They said the Registrar of Newspapers of India and the Punjab Government must ban the paper immediately.

Another resolution warned that if the government did not take appropriate action against the Editor, it would be understood that it was supporting the newspaper.

The Akhand Kirtni Jatha International (AKJI) submitted a memorandum to the Jathedar, stating that products of all those companies must be boycotted that gave advertisements to the Spokesman.

Mr Ratinder Singh of GURSIKH organisation said hawkers, distributors and journalists who worked for Spokesman must be summoned at Akal Takht.

Meanwhile, Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, president of the SAD (Delhi), said the government had already decided in principle to withdraw cases against Jathedar Nandgarh and other religious leaders. He claimed that the assurance regarding the withdrawal of cases had been given to him by senior police officials of the government.


Bt cotton seed firms agree to cut prices
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
The Punjab Government's efforts to make Bt cotton seed- producing and selling companies to slash the seed price have finally paid off. The firms have agreed to cut the price of the seed, depending on its variety, by Rs 300 to Rs 375 per packet of 450 gm.

The Director, Agriculture, Punjab, Mr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, who has been negotiating with the seed companies, told The Tribune today that Mico Seeds Limited had fixed the maximum retail price (MRP) at Rs 1,295 in the case of the MRC 6301 variety of Bt cotton and Rs 1,315 for the MRC 6304 variety. Ankur had fixed the MRP at Rs 1,390 for its 651 and 2534 seed varieties. Raci had fixed the price at Rs 1,375 per packet for its RCH 134 and RCH 317 varieties.

Last year, the sale price of all these varieties was in the range of Rs 1,600 per packet. This year, the sale price of all varieties would be lower than the MRP by Rs 70 to Rs 100. Already, Markfed, which would procure 85,000 packets from Mico, would sell the MRC 6301 variety at Rs 1,225 per packet and the MRC 6304 at Rs 1,250 per packet through agriculture cooperative societies. PUNSEED would procure 10,000 packets for sale to farmers.

Mr Sidhu said all companies had given in writing regarding the fixing of the new MRP.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had assured MLAs in the state Assembly that he would make the seed companies slash prices. Later, he had taken up the matter with the Union Science and Technology Minister, Mr Kapil Sibal. After convening a meeting of representatives of the companies, Mr Sibal had urged them to cut price of the Bt seed to make it affordable for farmers.

Meanwhile, sources said that in future the seed companies would be asked to submit the proposed sale price and the MRP of genetically modified varieties of various crops while approving their new varieties for sowing." The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee will seek the proposed prices of various genetically modified seeds of the producing companies at the time of according approval to such seeds for sowing in the country. Only those varieties which farmers could afford in all states would be recommended for sowing," said a senior officer who had attended the meeting convened by Mr Sibal. 


Century-old haveli pulled down
17 families, 20 shopkeepers displaced

Neeraj Bagga

Amritsar, March 29
Under the galliara beautification project, the authorities demolished the century-old Panna Lal Jain Haveli near Harmandar Sahib in the presence of a heavy police force in the wee hours today.

The demolition drive resulted in the displacement of 17 families and 20 shopkeepers. A mild resistance was put up by some residents while a local Akali leader raised slogans against the Congress-run state and Central governments.

Mr Manpreet Singh, SDM, said all tenants would be provided subsidised plots and the shopkeepers would be given shops in a shopping complex to be constructed at the same place. He said the dwellers were informed about it two years ago, but did not pay heed.

Mr Ravi Kumar said his family had been living in the haveli for the past one century. He said at present his family, comprising 11 members, were residing in it and did not have any other place to take refuge. He claimed that he had been paying monthly rent to the Jain Trust, which managed the haveli.

A tea merchant, Mr Pran Nath Khanna, who had his office and godown in it, said electricity meters of all shops and houses were removed. He claimed that the locks of his shops were broken to carry out the demolition. He alleged that policemen blocked the approach road to the haveli in order to stop them from reaching there.

Another tenant, Ms Surinder Kaur, said her family had been residing in it for the past over five decades. She said it was a surprise demolition and they did not have enough time to secure their valuable belongings. Shopkeepers and families alleged that their costly commodities got damaged during the drive.

Mr Satpal, Superintending Engineer of the galliara beautification project, said the demolition was carried out under the fourth and fifth phases of the project. He said the space would be utilised to build a basement parking lot and a shopping complex in which shops would be given to the displaced shopkeepers.


Transport officials spoil marriage party
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 29
Some officials of the Transport Department, Sangrur, played spoilsport in the marriage ceremony by “compelling” the members of the marriage party to alight from the two buses they were traveling in before impounding both the vehicles.

Sources said the marriage party having 150 members, including 70 women and children, left for Bathinda at 7 a.m. today on two buses and four other vehicles. It was supposed to reach the bride’s residence at about 1.30 p.m.

However, at about 1 p.m., some officials of the Transport Department, Sangrur, stopped the buses carrying members of the marriage party. “The officials impounded the buses stating that the owners did not have the required documents to ply buses on this route,” stated the groom.

He lamented that his family members and friends were left in the lurch by the “discourteous” officials who did not bother to make any alternative arrangement for their journey to Bathinda.

He also approached the Bathinda Deputy Commissioner, who was not available at that time. On the other hand, the bride’s father said their family members were waiting for the marriage party.

Shanti, an aunt of the groom, said only those members of the marriage party reached Bathinda who travelled by cars or other small vehicles. The band party was also upset due to the delay.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari, said he had talked to the ADTO in Sangrur and requested him to make some other arrangement to ferry the family members.


Eminent Punjabis honoured in UK
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
At a ceremony at the House of Commons of the UK last evening, organisations and individuals, who have made outstanding contribution to Punjabi art, literature, sports and values were honoured by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Punjabis.

The ceremony, the first of its kind in the history of the House of Commons, began amid the beating of drums. It was organised by John McDonnell, MP, Chair of the House of Commons’ All-Party Parliamentary Group on Punjabis in Britain. Mr Pritam Singh, a Punjabi writer in an email to The Tribune said among the honoured were Amarjit Chandan, an eminent Punjabi writer, Fauja Singh, an old man famed world over for his marathon runs and Malkiat Singh, Punjabi singer.

The organisations that were honoured included: The Punjab Research Group; the Maharajah Duleep Singh Centenary Trust, Des Pradesh, a Punjabi weekly; The Punjabi Theatre Academy, UK, for promoting Punjabi theatre and drama; Punjabi Centre and Desi Radio.

The Vaisakhi Da Mela Committee, Glasgow, was also honoured for promoting Punjabi culture in Scotland.

Others among the honoured individuals were: Dr Joyce Pettigrew for her imaginative and scholarly research on the culture and politics of resistance of the Punjabi people against centres of power; Amarjit Chandan for his rich contribution to Punjabi poetry and literature; Ms Susan Strong for her contribution to promote Punjabi arts history; Harbans Singh Jandu Litteranwala for writing Punjabi songs; Mahzar Tirmzi for his contribution to Punjabi poetry and short plays; Navdeep Kandola for his contribution in creating awareness about environment, Gurinder Singh Sacha for contribution to teaching of Punjabi; Chaman Lal Chaman for promotion of Punjabi poetry and music; Sody Singh Kahlon, for Punjabi comedy; Dominic Rai for contribution to Punjabi theatre; and Gurcharan Mall for popularising Dhol beats.

A joint award was given to Paramjit Singh and Amandeep Madra for contribution towards research in artistic and cultural heritage of Punjab and Sikhs. Manghat Rai Bharadwaj, was honoured for his contribution to Punjabi grammar; Suki Dhanda for her creative use of the medium of photography to promote culture of Punjabi people; Ajit Singh Kalirai, for his achievements in sports; Gurpal Virdi for fighting against racism in the police; Makand Singh for projecting a positive image of the Sikhs in the British Army; Mohni Grewal, for contribution towards projecting a positive and ethical image of the Punjabi/Asian community by launching environment friendly housing schemes for culturally disadvantaged communities and groups.

The awards were conferred by John McDonnell, John Spellar, Grieve Dominic, Paramjit Dhanda and Rob Marriss (all MPs).


Darbar Sahib gets back golden sheen
Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, March 29
The four-century-old Darbar Sahib is glittering more than usual. With almost 3 quintals of gold (about Rs 2.40 crore) used for gilding, first time after Maharaja Ranjit Singh, it is the second Sikh shrine after the Golden Temple where a huge quantity of gold has been used.

The domes and outer portions of the temple have been given new gold-gild copper sheets. This work of exquisite craftsmanship is being given finishing touches to mark the quadricentennial (400) death anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev, the founder of Tarn Taran. It falls in June this year. The main entrance to the sanctum sanctorum called Darshani Deori has also started shimmering.

The gurdwara got constructed by the Guru stands on the side of a large tank.

According to Baba Amrik Singh of Dera Baba Jagtar Singh Kar Sewawale, at least 35 kg of gold would be used for the “palki” (palanquin). Mr Jaswant Singh, foreman, said though Muslim and Hindu artistes had been working round the clock to meet the deadline of Baisakhi, a large number of Sikh artistes have also made great contributions to complete the work.

More than 30 artisans have been on the job to complete the gigantic task. Baba Mohinder Singh said artistes from Banaras had been called for the job. The traditional “meenakari” is also being done on the interiors of the sanctum sanctorum while gold plates on the exterior were also being replaced.

Darbar Sahib is an important centre of Sikh pilgrimage 24 km south of Amritsar. It was founded by Guru Arjan Dev in 1596. Maharaja Ranjit Singh visited the shrine in 1802. The Maharaja and his grandson Kanvar Nau Nihal Singh had donated large quantities of gold to have the exterior plated with the precious metal. The upper portion of the edifice is covered with goldplated sheets.

The lotus dome of the Darbar Sahib was damaged in an earthquake (April 4, 1905). It was rebuilt with an umbrella shaped gold finial on top.

(To be concluded )


Cong has been exposed, says BJP
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 29
Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s decision to quit her Lok Sabha membership and the National Advisory Council could not be termed as renunciation as she did it under pressure from the Opposition, state BJP chief Avinash Rai Khanna said while interacting with mediapersons here today.

He said Congress leaders were projecting her as a symbol of sacrifice only to cover up their mistake.

He said though the Union Agriculture Minister had announced a special package for farmers, it was restricted to the farming community of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. He said hundreds of debt-ridden farmers had committed suicide in the state and the package should also be extended to Punjab.

He said it was a serious problem and the government should show urgency to help the farmers.

About his party’s plans, he said rallies had been held to broaden the BJP’s base in the state. Two more rallies would be held in Hoshiarpur and Nangal in April.

He said a rally would also be organised in Pathankot on April 29 in which the party’s national president, Mr Rajnath Singh, would also participate.


70 pc schoolchildren suffer from dental diseases in Sangrur district
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 29
Out of about 25,000 schoolchildren, examined under the School Dental Health Programme by members of the Indian Dental Association (IDA) in the Sangrur district recently, about 70 per cent children, especially in the rural areas, have been found suffering from various dental diseases.

Preference was given to the rural area children, as they are more prone to dental diseases as compared to the urban children. These children were examined for various dental diseases as part of the national oral health programme by dividing the district into four zones, namely Sangrur, Sunam, Barnala and Malerkotla.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Dr Vivek Bhatnagar, chief coordinator of the project in the district, said out of about 25,000 children nearly 80 per cent were suffering from dental caries while 40 per cent from malocclusion, 55 per cent from fluorosis and 30 per cent from gum diseases.

He said these diseases had been found more in the rural areas, as the rural children did not brush their teeth properly.

Dr Bhatnagar said early childhood caries emerged as a major source of dental diseases. He said a large number of children, belonging to below poverty line (BPL) families, were largely found suffering from such dental diseases.

He said in the slum areas of the Sangrur district children did not have basic facilities to clean their teeth, which led to foul smell from their mouth and decayed teeth.

He said in rural areas of the district the incidence of dental caries was higher and lower teeth were found more affected than upper teeth.

Dr Bhatnagar said retained primary teeth was another problem seen in the children. Permanent teeth were erupting and not taking proper place and the primary teeth were not falling in time, so malocclusion problem was also seen among the children.

Incidence of fluorotic teeth was also much higher in the rural areas. Fluoride in higher concentration not only affected the colour but also eroded the teeth, he added.

Dr Bhatnagar appealed to the teachers and the parents to check the black spots and doubling of teeth, so that complications could be checked at a proper time.


Durgiana panel row deepens
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 29
The Durgiana Management Committee, which forcibly took over the management of the historical Durgiana Temple yesterday, would make the inventory of toshakhana.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Mr Harnam Das Arora, president of the committee, said committee members met the Deputy Commissioner for appointing an official so that the committee could prepare the inventory of jewellery and other documents of the toshakhana in his presence.

He said the committee members were going through the records available in the committee office and would try to brings all facts before the public. He said if anything was found wrong, the committee would lodge a complaint with the police against the previous management.

Mr Arora said he had asked Mr Surinder Arjun, who still claims to be the president of the committee, to hand over the keys and accounts of the temple to the newly appointed committee, but he refused to do so.

Meanwhile, Mr Arjun told mediapersons that the present Congress leadership was harming the interests of the party by handing over the affairs of the shrine to the Opposition, led by the BJP and the RSS. He said if they had found anything wrong with his working, they should have consulted him and asked for his resignation.

Mr Arjun said he was still the legally elected president of the committee as Mr Arora was not even a primary member of the committee since he had not paid the membership fee for many years. Moreover, his membership was cancelled in January for working against the interests of the shrine.

He said he met the Deputy Commissioner today and apprised him of the matter, and asked him to ensure the safety of jewellery and other documents of the toshakhana, He said he would lodge an FIR against those who vandalised the committee office by breaking the locks.


Newborn girl abandoned
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 29
A new born girl was allegedly abandoned by her mother at the local Mata Kaushliya Hospital, today after the mother, along with her relatives, left the hospital without taking the child along with her.

Dr Daljit Singh Gill, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, said first the mother and her kin started levelling allegations that she delivered a male child and someone had swapped her male child with the female child, but when she was convinced that she had delivered the female child, she abandoned her today.

Dr Gill said the woman, identified as Santosh, a local resident, came to the hospital yesterday and delivered the child at the spot where counters for issuing prescription slips to patients were given.

He added that Santosh was given full medical care after she delivered the child around 9.20 a.m. yesterday.

He said Santosh started levelling allegations last night that someone had changed her male child with the female child.

When he made enquiries from the hospital today, Santosh left the hospital abandoning her child there.

He said the matter had been reported to the local police and the state health authorities. The girl had been shifted to the nursery of the hospital and child specialists had been taking constant care of her.

Police sources said they had been trying to locate the mother of the child. When a team went to her house, she was not present and her whereabouts were not known.

The sources said legal action would be taken only after the mother was traced and her statement recorded.


Doctors, medical students on warpath
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 29
Students of various medical colleges held demonstrations at their respective institutions to protest the state government’s decision to hand over these institutions to private societies.

In a press release, Dr Gagan Sharma, vice-president of the Joint Medical Students Union (JMSU), said if the government did not take back the decision, the JMSU would be left with no other option except to intensify the agitation.

He welcomed the move of various co-ordination committees to make students’ bodies a part of the delegation which will be meeting Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Meanwhile, during the stir, launched by the Doctor-Public Joint Action Committee, PCMS doctors held protest rallies across the state to register their protest against setting up of societies.

President of the Patiala Beopar Mandal Nirmal Dass Malhotra issued an appeal to various traders and social organisations to join the demonstrations to pressurise the government to take back the decision.

At a meeting of the District PCMS Association held at Rajindera Hospital today, the association condemned the lathi charge on pharmacists in Chandigarh yesterday.

Mr Harish Malhotra and Mr Naresh Sharma, president and secretary of the association, respectively, urged the government to withdraw its decision and called upon its members to assemble at the local Rajindera hospital on April 5.


Madhopur headworks closed
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, March 29
Water in the Madhopur headworks has been stopped after about 15 years for repairs in gates and renovation. Earlier, the water at the head was stopped in 1991-92 for minor repairs.

The closure of the head means that there would be no generation at the Ranjit Sagar Dam for about 20 days. About 150 to 200 mw of power was being generated at the dam. The stoppage of generation could mean additional power cuts in the state.

Due to the closure no water would be available in the UBDC canal system for 20 days. This would also lead to waste of the municipal councils getting stuck in the canals, spreading foul smell in the area.

Sources available here said the Department of Irrigation would launch repair works in the water head with the grant provided by the Union Government, which has released Rs 70 lakh for repairs at the Madhopur head. Another about Rs 2 crore is in the pipeline.

According to norms, the irrigation authorities should have flushed waters through the head to clear the silt depositing in the storage area. However, due to consistent demand for water the practice could not be followed. This led to the deposition of silt near the gate of the headworks.

The deposition near the gate has increased to such an extent that the storage capacity of the headworks has been almost finished. The headworks now just serves the purpose of diverting the water into UBD canal system.

The state had been loosing a fortune due to lack of repairs. The Centre Water Commission had calculated the loss per cusecs of water at Rs 33 lakh per annum. About 300 cusecs of water was being wasted at the Madhopur head due to lack of repairs. As per the formula worked out by the CWC the state was loosing water worth Rs 99 crore per annum. This was besides the 3.68 lakh acre feet water lost from the headworks during monsoon.

The sources here stated that with the amount provided by the government only major repairs would be carried. This would stop seepage of water through the gates. But the storage capacity of the headworks would not be redeemed.


Cantt residents oppose telecom tower
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 29
Close on the heels of security concerns over the satellite imagery of important airbases in North India on a website, residents of the cantonment here are perturbed over the installation of a telecom tower in the cantonment.

Spearheading the campaign against the decision of the cantonment board to give clearance to the lease for installation, Mr Swaranjit Singh, a former cricketer and Ms Irmengard Singh expressed their opposition from the security point of view.

However, Cantonment Executive Officer (CEO) N.S. Gill while talking to The Tribune today, said he would look into the matter as he had joined the station just a week ago.

Mr Swaranjit Singh also pointed out the pathetic state of civic amenities in the cantonment. He alleged that elections had not been held to the board for six years. The CEO said as a rule the election was held following directions of the Central Government.

Mr Sawaranjit said there was inordinate delay in the installation of tubewells and the three-hour water supply daily was inadequate. He said the cantonment was considered to be one of the most beautifully maintained areas until a few years, but the present board had not initiated any maintenance or development work.

The CEO said delay in the appointment of a junior engineer was hampering the functioning. Also, earlier the duties of the CEO were being undertaken by a Ferozepore officer and hence, the problems could not be addressed effectively.

Several of the roads were proposed to be repaired soon and the installation of tubewells would be taken on priority.

Since civilian schemes are not being implemented, the board is virtually facing a fund crunch. In the absence of the seven members of the board, the central government had made a provisionary board, which wasn't as effective.


No agency to certify organic produce
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, March 29
Much has been talked about the interest of Prince Charles in organic methods of farming adopted in Punjab. However, the fact is that there is no agency in the state to certify the produce as organic. This is a major handicap faced by the farmers interested in organic farming.

Mr Khushal Behl is a progressive farmer from the district who has tried growing organic vegetables. Talking to The Tribune, he said generally the produce through organic farming was low. He said there was a market in metros and other cities for organic produce where it was sold at double the normal price. However, there was no agency in the state to certify their produce as organic. Organically produced vegetables could be sold at a higher price only if the customer believed that the produce was really organic. For certification, there was a need for a credible agency.

Experts of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), who were here on a visit to the regional centre of the university, stressed the need for an organic produce certifying authority in the state.

Dr B.S. Dhillon, Director, Research, PAU, said their stress was on meeting the food demands of country. Now that the target had been achieved, the stress would be on quality. However, the job of the PAU was just research and providing new techniques to the farmers.

The government would have to create an agency to promote organic farming by certifying the produce of the farmers. Dr S.S. Gill, Director, Extension Education, PAU, said a farmer would have to keep his field clear of fertilisers and pesticides for at least three years to get his produce declared as organic. So, it was very difficult for small farmers to switch over to organic farming without government support.

Ms Supinder Kaur Cheema, Member, Board of Management, PAU, said the government was making efforts in this direction.


Sewage contaminates groundwater
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, March 29
Faulty sewerage of Pathankot has contaminated underground water in many areas. Hand pumps installed in houses are pumping out contaminated water.

Rosy, a resident of Sarain locality, said the hand pump had been installed in their house at a depth of about 30 ft. It pumped out black water that is not fit for consumption. The other residents of the area also said they had stopped using their hand pumps.

They have to depend on the erratic water supply of the municipal council that comes for just two hours a day.

The water being pumped out by the hand pumps contains heavy metals and other chemicals that are harmful to health. Officials of the municipal council, speaking on the condition of anonymity, blamed those who laid the sewerage in the area. They alleged that the laying of sewerage was faulty. Poor quality pipes were used, they claimed.

In many areas, sewers were overlapping water supply pipes. At places, water pipes were damaged.

Jaundice had also broken in many areas of Pathankot, leading to the death of four persons. Since then, the council authorities had changed the water supply pipes in many areas but the problem persists.

The disposal of untreated sewage is another problem. Presently, the council is releasing untreated sewage into the UBD canal passing through the city. The canal is used for irrigating fields in Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts.

In many areas, villagers use the water for their cattle and also for bathing.

The Supreme Court had set 2008 as deadline in connection with the release of untreated waste in water bodies. Organisations concerned have been directed to set up sewage treatment plants before 2008.


Villagers block highway
Tribune News Service

Tanda, March 29
Up in arms against police authorities for not arresting a retired police inspector, who had thrashed a Scheduled Caste woman and abused her last week, hundreds of residents belonging to Valmik community of Jora village blocked the busy Jalandhar-Pathankot national highway for over two hours near here today.

The protesters raised slogans against police and the government for hours and did not permit even a single vehicle to cross the highway.

The irate villagers also alleged that senior police personnel had been shielding their former colleague Inspector Avtar Singh.

Mr Avtar Singh was earlier booked by the police under provisions of the SC and ST Act on the complaint of Mrs Geeta Rani, a resident of the village. The complainant had alleged that Avtar Singh thrashed her and abused for taking some green fodder from his fields.

The protesters thrashed to continue the agitation if the police fails to arrest Avtar Singh soon.

Traffic on the busy highway was also disrupted for hours. The long route passengers, patients and children were the most sufferers.

The irate villagers could be pacified only after Mr Paranjit Singh, SDM, Mukarian, reached the spot and assured them that the suspect would be arrested in the next 72 hours.


Employees seek promotion scales
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 29
There is resentment among employees against the Punjab government for having failed to fulfil promises made to them during Assembly elections.

Mr Raj Kumar Arora, chairman of the Punjab State Ministerial Services Union, today demanded promotion scales after four, nine and 14 years of service to the employees, increase of medical allowance to Rs 500 payment of house rent on the Chandigarh pattern, and filling of posts in various departments.

Mr Arora also demanded jobs on compassionate ground for the dependants of the deceased employees without imposing any condition. End to privatisation of educational and health institutions was also demanded.

Mr Arora criticised the government’s decision regarding the withdrawal of existing works from the eight divisions of the PWD B&R, including Construction division, Sangrur, as these Divisions would work for the World Bank-Aided Punjab State Road Sector Project. He claimed the World Bank had not released funds for the road project. So the government should not withdraw existing works from these divisions, as withdrawal of existing works would to retrenchment/transfer of employees, he added.

He warned the government if it did not fulfil demands of employees then the Congress would face ire of the employees in the Assembly elections. He appealed to the Chief Minister to hold a meeting with leaders of employees to solve their problems and meet demands.


Pak pilgrims honoured
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 29
As many as 199 pilgrims from Pakistan, who came to pay obeisance at Rauza Sharif were felicitated on the concluding day of three-day annual Urs by the District Administration today at Aam Khas Bagh.

Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Dr Harbans Lal, was the chief guest and Deputy Commissioner, Mrs Jaspreet Talwar, presided over the function.

Addressing the function, Dr Harbans Lal stressed the need for further strengthening of relations between two countries. He said that starting of Indo-Pak games, running of buses from Lahore to Amritsar and to Nankana Sahib, visits of students, lawyers, journalists, traders to each others’ country is a clear sign that people wanted the same atmosphere which was 59 years ago.

Mrs Jaspreet Talwar, in her address, said that people of both countries want peace, prosperity and well-being of each other.

In his address, Mr Abdul Razak, leader of the delegation, appreciated the arrangements made by the district administration for their visit. He said that people of both countries should be allowed easy assess to their religious places and the visa restrictions should be simplified.

A cultural program was organised on the occasion.


Patiala to get 20 deep tubewells
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
In an effort to improve the water supply in Patiala, the Patiala Urban Planning and Development Authority, at its meeting here today, approved to install 20 deep tubewells in the city.

A spokesperson of the Punjab Government said keeping in view the future needs of potable water supply in the city, a scheme of bringing canal water was also discussed as an alternate source of water supply to local residents.

It was decided to commence the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law from the Mahindra Kothi from the current academic session.

The authority also decided to speed up the process of the development of the integrated township at Baran village and to set up a new sabzi mandi on the Sanaur road.


CM launches Sanjivni
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today launched the Sanjivni Healthcare Scheme in the state, the first of its kind in northern India. The scheme has been floated by rural cooperative societies of Punjab.

Six lakh members of the cooperative societies have been identified and will be enrolled under this scheme. Any member of a rural cooperative society or his dependant spouse, unmarried children and parents can benefit from the health facility at a premium of Rs 300 per annum.

The Chief Minister gave identity cards to beneficiaries and released a brochure on Sanjivni highlighting its salient features.


Amarinder mourns death of Bansi Lal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today expressed grief over the death of Mr Bansi Lal, a former Chief Minister of Haryana.

In a condolence message, Capt Amarinder Singh said Mr Bansi Lal was the architect of modern Haryana and played a pivotal role in the overall development of that state.

Ms Preneet Kaur, MP from Patiala, also mourned the death of Mr Bansi Lal.


17 panchayats get development funds

Pathankot, March 29
Punjab Urban Development and Housing Minister Raghunath Sahai Puri distributed cheques worth Rs 21 lakh among 17 gram panchayats of Dhar block in the Sujanpur constituency for carrying out developments speedily here on Tuesday.

Mr Puri asked the Congress workers to carry the policies of the government to the people so that they got benefited. — OC


Post office asked to pay Rs 9,910 as relief
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 29
The Consumer Court, Hoshiarpur, has accepted the complaint of Pawan Kumar of Abadgarh village (Gurdaspur) and has instructed the Head Post Office, Mukerian, to pay Rs 9910 to the complainant.

Pawan Kumar had filed a complaint under Section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, asking the post office, to pay Rs 9910 because, when he sent a form along with a draft to Panjab University through speed post on November 20, 2002, it did not reach its destination. As a result the university did not issue him the roll number. Thereafter, the complainant had to pay Rs 9910 to the university as late fee.

In another decision the court after recording the evidence, came to the conclusion that Micro Infotech, Hoshiarpur, did not provide proper service, including the repair or replacement of the HP printer when it was found to be defective. Ms Renu, a local resident, had filed a complaint against the firm for the replacement of the printer, which was purchased by her on January 7, 2005 for Rs 10,500.

In its order, the court held that the said firm was required to repair the same and if it could not be repaired then it should be replaced and the firm should pay Rs 500 as costs of the litigation.


CM expects increase in wheat MSP soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is expecting an increase in the minimum support price ( MSP) of wheat soon.

Speaking to mediapersons, the Chief Minister said today that the announcement with regard to the increase in the MSP was likely to be made by the Union Government by April 1, the day the procurement of wheat would officially start in Punjab and Haryana.

He said he had talked to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, in this regard during his recent visit to Amritsar." The PM told me that the issue was under consideration at the highest level in the Union Government", said Capt Amarinder Singh.

When asked how much increase he expected, Capt Amarinder Singh said he could not make a guess in this connection.

At present, the MSP of wheat is Rs 650 per quintal and last year it was Rs 640 per quintal. Some weeks ago, Capt Amarinder Singh had met the Prime Minister and the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, to seek an increase of about Rs 70 per quintal in the wheat MSP.

The Chief Minister said he had ordered a special girdawari of crops hit by hailstorm in various parts of the state. Farmers whose potato crop was damaged by frost in the winter this year would be given compensation soon, he added.

He said the newly appointed Lokpal, Justice D.S. Dhaliwal, would take the oath of office tomorrow.

He said he would write to the Prime Minister for allowing a bus service from Lahore to Ajmer in Rajasthan.


Man killed in land dispute
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 29
A land dispute between two brothers has led to the murder of one of them. According to police sources, Gurmeet Kaur, wife of Kulwinder Singh of Dhamina Kalan, stated that her husband had gone out on a cycle on the March 27 evening but did not return home. On the next morning some persons informed her that the body of her husband was lying on the Shamchaurasi-Dosarka road. Marks of injuries were found on the head and neck. She stated that there was a land dispute between Kulwinder Singh and her brother-in-law, Surinder Singh. She suspected that her brother-in-law had killed her husband.

The Hariana police has registered a case under Section 302, IPC, against Surinder Singh.


Two held on theft charge
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, March 29
The Railway police stationed at Rajpura today arrested two thieves and recovered Rs 2 lakh from their custody.

A case was registered with regard to theft.

Sources said that the duo committed the theft at a cloth shop in Gujar Mal Road in Ludhiana yesterday.

The accused were identified as Ramtej Singh and Gabbar Singh, residents of Uttar Pradesh.


Robbers kill one, loot cash, jewellery
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 29
Ex-serviceman Satnam Singh (62) was killed and his wife, Amarjit Kaur, injured when armed robbers attacked their house last night. The number of robbers is said to eight.

The Sadar police has registered a case in this regards.


Two hurt in road mishap

Kharar, March 29
Two persons were injured in an accident involving four vehicles on the national highway near Sunny Enclave here this evening. Mr Rajat Mehta, a resident of the enclave, said a truck coming from Mohali collided with another truck near Gilco Valley colony.

Both drivers suffered injuries and were taken to the local Civil Hospital by police personnel. To cars also got damaged when the driver of one of the truck’s hit these. — OC


Seminar on Buddhism
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 29
The Centre for Buddhist Studies and Guru Gobind Singh Department of Religious Studies, Punjabi University, yesterday organised a UGC-sponsored national seminar on “Buddhism in Punjab: Past and Present”.

It was presided over by Prof J.S. Grewal, former Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.

Prof K.T.S. Sarao, Head, Department of Buddhist Studies, University of Delhi, delivered the keynote address.

Professor Sarao said Buddhism, which once flourished in North-West India, declined mainly because of the lack of commitment among followers.

Discussing various reasons for the decline and extinction of Buddhism from Punjab, he listed several reasons.

Moral and ethical corruption among monks and nuns, animosity of Brahmins, persecution by Brahminical kings, Muslim invasions and rise of the Mahayana sect were some of the reasons for the decline of Buddhism, he pointed out.

People from lower castes joined the faith and Lord Buddha condemned the discrimination against them, but he never rejected the caste system as such.

He accepted the fact of a fair amount of friction between Brahmins and Buddhists, but it was no more than academic wrestling.

He opined that Buddhism remained mainly an urbanised faith, originating and flourishing only in cities, and its followers did not have the kind of commitment required to perpetuate any faith.

Professor Grewal also inaugurated the Centre for Buddhist Studies. He remarked that Punjab had produced both warriors and saints. It had been a land where Vedas were composed and where Mahayana sect of Buddhism originated and flourished.


Students inconvenienced at Charles’ visit
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 29
Classes for the past week at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College were affected due to the visit of Prince Charles as two helipads were made in the college campus and police guarded these pads by erecting tents at least seven days before the dignitaries arrived.

But the background check on almost all students has caused more resentment among the students.

The police got addresses of the hostelers from the college and police personnel visited their houses to verify their background.

They alleged that the police told their parents that they wanted to record the evidence of their neighbours regarding the behavior of their son studying in BBSB College.

They alleged that the police even verified the background of the girl students staying in the hostel.

They alleged that, in certain cases, the police personnel took money from their parents.


Students protest against non-issuance of roll numbers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 29
Students of the final year of graduation of SR Government College for Women who had not been issued roll numbers staged a dharna along with their parents in front of the college here today.

These students were disallowed to take the annual examination on account of their low percentage in the conditional tests.

The students alleged that more than 200 students had been disallowed but some were cleared within two days to take examinations due to some extraneous considerations.

Denying the allegation, the Principal, Ms Jasmeet Nayyar, said some students had scored below 25 per cent marks and could not be given permission as per the guidelines and calendar of Guru Nanak Dev University. All students were allotted grace marks and some of them, therefore, cleared the condition, she added.

Meanwhile, the students and their parents threatened to gherao the college and stall the examination on March 31 if the college authorities did not issue them roll numbers.

The Civil Line police was heavily deputed at college gates.


Societies not to run colleges: CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
A deputation of doctors and other employees of the Punjab Government medical and dental colleges here today met the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to oppose the handing over the management of these colleges to proposed societies.

After the meeting, the Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association, which led the deputation, in a signed statement, said that the Chief Minister had assured that the Government medical and dental colleges would not be handed over to proposed Societies.

In its Budget speech, the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, had proposed to hand over the management of these colleges by setting up societies of eminent persons.

The process to set up such societies had also begun.

The move had caused resentment among employees of these colleges.


Economic challenges discussed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 29
Ms Isher Judge Ahluwalia, Vice-Chairperson of the Punjab State Planning Board (PSPB), delivered the inaugural Amardeep Memorial Lecture on “Punjab economy: challenges ahead” organised at Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

She said there was a scope for development of the services sector like health and tourism but the agriculture sector was still the backbone of the state’s development. She stressed the need for an agro-based industry.

Dr S.S. Johl, Vice-Chairman of the PSPB, presided over the function.

Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, honoured Ms Ahluwalia and Mr Gurcharan Singh, father of the late Amardeep in whose memory this lecture has been instituted.


Students stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 29
Students of Guru Gobind College of Modern Technology staged a dharna in protest against the alleged indifferent attitude of the teachers. Students even shut the gate of the college and did not allow teachers to move out of the institute. This went on for quite sometime till the police intervened and got the matter sorted out.

It is reported that students protested because teachers had given them low marks in their internal assessment which would adversely affect their over-all result. The students said that in other colleges teachers were more liberal with internal assessment marks. The students further alleged that the college authorities were asking for additional amount of money as part of the fees even when no such mention was made by them earlier.

The college authorities could not be contacted despite attempts.

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