P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sonia quits as Jallianwala Trust chief
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 5
The Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, has resigned from the post of the Chairperson of the 86-year-old Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust (JBNMT).

A letter faxed to the trust's office in Jallianwala Bagh here, received by the trust secretary, mentioned that she was resigning from the post with an immediate effect.

Mr S.K. Mukherjee, secretary of the trust, said the letter of Mrs Gandhi had been forwarded to all trustees for consent.

He added that Ms Gandhi was not receiving any emoluments or perks as the Chairperson.

It may be mentioned here that Mr Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, had set up the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust and was its first Chairman with the Chief Minister, Governor of Punjab etc., as its members.

From then onwards, it became a convention to have a Prime Minister at the helm of trust affairs.

However, Ms Sonia Gandhi became the Chairperson of the trust breaking the convention.

She became the Chairperson of trust on August 7, 1998, when Mr H.D. Devegowda was the Prime Minister.

Incidentally, the JBNMT is an autonomous body under the Union Ministry of Cultural Affairs.

The trust comprises six members. Apart from a Chairperson, five other current members are: the Governor, Punjab, Gen (retd.) S.F. Rodrigues, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the former Prime Minister, Mr I.K. Gujral, the former Congress MP, Mr Umrao Singh, and the former Congress MP and PPCC chief, Mr Varinder Kataria.

Mr Mukherjee said according to the constitution of the trust, the Chairperson was elected by the trustees nominated by the government.

He informed that the Governor, Punjab, and Mr Kataria had given their nod to accept resignation.

Earlier, efforts to replace Ms Gandhi as the Chairperson during the NDA rule were strongly opposed by the Congress.

In fact, the then Union Cabinet had tried to amend the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial Trust Act to oust Ms Gandhi so as to enable the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, the Cultural Affairs Minister and the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha to become permanent members of the trust.

However, Mr R.L. Bhatia, veteran Congress leader (presently, Governor of Kerala) and chairman of the local management committee had opposed the move to remove Ms Sonia Gandhi as the Chairperson of the trust.

Sadly, the memorial to patriots has not been developed in a planned way.

So much so that the Rs 2.50 crore sanctioned by the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development (Department of Culture) on March 16, 1998, remained unused for long.

A report on the matter was later submitted by the then Indian Youth Congress chief, Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, to the then Prime Minister, Mr P.V. Narsimha Rao.

The pathetic condition of the Jallianwala Bagh was also highlighted in a letter by Mr S.K. Mukherji to the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Amritsar.

It read: "A meeting of the trust held on March 22, 1999, pointed out that the trust was facing immense problems in maintaining the sanctity of the memorial."

Mr Mukherji had further stated, "The residents of the surrounding areas have been throwing garbage and polluting the memorial complex.

"It puts a bad impression on the visitors. To protect the sanctity of the memorial, the members desired that a cleanliness drive may be launched."


7-year RI for Giani Kewal Singh’s son in dowry case
Victim’s brother to move HC
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 5
A fast-track court here today sentenced Baljinder Singh, son of former Damdama Sahib Jathedar Giani Kewal Singh, to seven years of rigorous imprisonment in the dowry death case of his wife Sharanjit Kaur in 1997. The court acquitted ex-jathedar and his kin Joginder Kaur.

However, Sharanjit’s brother said he would move the high court to seek punishment for those acquitted in the case. Deceased Sharanjit Kaur, married Baljinder Singh in 1996, had died under mysterious circumstances. Her body was found floating in the tank of Likhan Sar Sahib Gurdwara in front of the official residence of Giani Kewal Singh in the Takht Sri Damdama Sahib Complex on May 18, 1997. Sharanjit Kaur’s brother, Amarjit Singh, had alleged that his sister was killed for dowry, the family of the Jathedar had described it as an “accidental death”.

Initially, no case was registered against Giani Kewal Singh and his family members reportedly due to his political connections. The police registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC and put the matter in a cold store. However, brother of the deceased, Amarjit Singh, moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking registration of a case against them.

The high court then directed the district police chief to register a case against Giani Kewal Singh, his kin Joginder Kaur, and his son Baljinder Singh, following which they were booked under Sections 304-B and 34 of the IPC in October 1999. But, the accused were not arrested even after one and a half years of registration of case against them. The police which investigated the case, gave a clean chit to them. They couldn’t evade arrest for long and non-bailable warrants were issued against them on June 11, 2001 after they failed to appear in the court following the issuance of summons to them in connection with the case.

It was for the first time that warrants were issued against a serving jathedar of a Takht. Demand of his resignation began emanating from various quarters and Panthic circles said if Bibi Jagir Kaur could be removed when her name figured in the FIR of the CBI why should Giani Kewal Singh be allowed to continue as Jathedar. They said in the 397-year history of the takht, no jathedar had appeared in any court.

Bowing to pressure from Sikh clergy, he resigned from the post of Jathedar of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib on January 10, 2002. His resignation was accepted on February 20, 2002. A couple of months later Giani Kewal Singh, his son Baljinder Singh and Joginder Kaur surrendered in the court of sub-divisional judicial magistrate Harsh Mehta on March 7, 2002.

Reacting to today’s judgement, Sharanjit’s brother Amarjit Singh said though he had full respect for the judiciary’s verdict, he would move the high court seeking sentence for Giani Kewal Singh and his kin Joginder Kaur, as they were fully involved in the case.


Punjab to move HC for more time to shift pvt schools
Ajay Banerjee & Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
Facing a major crisis of handling lakhs of schoolchildren, who face an uncertain future if 17,000 unauthorised private schools in Punjab close down on orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Punjab Government has decided to file an application in the High Court seeking more time to shift schools out of residential buildings.

Well-placed sources in the government confirmed the move, saying the state had no other option but to seek more time from the court. The issue has the potential to snowball into a major “political storm” if schools in such huge numbers are closed down with less than one year left for the Assembly elections in the state. It will not only render children without proper education but will also have an impact on teachers working in these schools.

These schools are functioning out of residential areas or are against the existing norms. Most such schools do not have proper infrastructure and have no proper affiliation with the school education board. The High Court had fixed a deadline for March 31, 2006 to shift schools from residential areas. The Court had also said that it will not given any extensions in deadline.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, has been apprised of the matter and he held a meeting with senior functionaries today to chalk out a strategy in this regard. Lakhs of students in these schools face an uncertain future and the Chief Minister is aware of the fact, said a senior functionary.

Punjab while making an application in the High Court will also claim that the High Court, in a separate order, had stayed the selection process of nearly 10,000 teachers in Punjab. If these private schools are closed down at this juncture, children will suffer as the government schools do not have the infrastructure or the teachers to cope with the huge rush.

The government also plans to point out to the Court that it has already started the ground work of shifting the schools to allocated and earmarked sites. Applications have been invited for such sites in Mohali and soon the system will be adopted in other districts of the state as well. It may be mentioned that the High Court is on vacation from April 7 to 16 and the Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, will hold a meeting with senior functionaries on April 7 to finalise the contents of the applications.

It may be mentioned that the Punjab Government has admitted that it has the existing capacity to take in about 3 lakh students in various schools. It has also directed private schools — that are facing closure — not to take in new admissions for the forthcoming academic session.

The government has also fixed targets for admitting new students in government schools and has asked all principals, teachers and district education officers to ensure that more children are admitted to Government schools.


Minor snaps nuptial ties with ‘drug addict’ groom
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Karnail Singh and his relatives at a gurdwara after his bride refused to accompany him accusing him of being a drug addict, in Bathinda on Wednesday.
Karnail Singh and his relatives at a gurdwara after his bride refused to accompany him accusing him of being a drug addict, in Bathinda on Wednesday.
— Tribune photo by Kulbir Beera

Bathinda, April 5
A minor girl snapped nuptial ties soon after the marriage rituals were over here today. She accused the groom of being a drug addict.

According to sources, Karnail Singh of Ferozepore got engaged to Kanwaljit Kaur of Bathinda about 20 days back. Today, the marriage party reached Gurdwara Singh Sabha here for Anand Karaj.

Initially there was no hassle and marriage rituals were performed smoothly. The bride backed off from the marriage at the time of “doli” alleging that the groom was a drug addict and his hands were trembling during the marriage ceremony.

Sources said the suspicion of the bride’s family became stronger when a woman from the groom’s side reportedly stated that he used to take drugs earlier.

The bride soon adopted a stubborn approach and refused to accompany the groom. It led to a chaos at the gurdwara. The bride and some of her family members left the scene, while the groom’s family remained adamant on taking the bride along.

Sources attributed the girl’s reluctance to the death of her drug addict brother-in-law, who lost life to smack five years ago. He was the husband of her elder sister.

Sources said the girl was staying with her younger sister and mother who worked as a domestic help.

On the other hand, groom’s brother Amarjeet Singh denied the girl’s allegations and said Karnail was even ready for a medical examination to prove them wrong.

He wondered as to how the girl’s family didn’t know about his drug addiction at the time of engagement.

About the charge of child marriage, he said: “We are not aware of her age. Her mother should know about it, as it is she who has married her off.”

He said they were still camping in a dharamshala and were trying to sort out the issue.

Meanwhile, the matter has been reported to the police.

An ASI from the Kotwali police station has recorded statements of both parties. SHO G.S. Romana said he was yet to receive a report on the matter and that the investigations were on.


Farmers visit Mansa for reapers
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Mansa, April 5
People of this town speak Punjabi and that too in a dialect quintessential to the Malwa region of Punjab. But what surprises one is the growing number of shops where boards have been put up in Hindi in the area around the bus stand here.

On enquiry it was found this town had become favourite with farmers of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan because due to its reapers used for harvesting wheat and other crops.

“Market forces have made us put up boards in Hindi on our shops. Most of the farmers and dealers visit us to buy reapers from UP, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and other Central India states. As they cannot read Punjabi, we have also put up boards in Hindi for their convenience”, says Mr Sukhwinder Singh, a leading manufacturer of reapers in this town.

At the beginning of the harvest season of rabi, farmers from various parts reach this town to buy reapers, a low-cost agricultural equipment that can be fitted on a tractor to harvest wheat crop faster. One can harvest 15 to 20 acres of wheat crop in a day with a reaper.

It costs only Rs 18,000 to Rs 22,000 depending on its size and quality. And not only wheat, these reapers can also harvest jawar, millet, tilhan, arhar, soyabean and other crops, sown in plenty in Rajasthan, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

There are about 10 big manufacturers of reapers who can make 50 to 70 reapers in a season here. “We start manufacturing reapers in September and stock a good number of these by February-end when dealers and farmers from other states start visiting us”, said Mr Sukhwinder Singh of Sartaj Agriculture Works. “We now have good network of dealers in various states who place orders in advance. Farmers also come in good numbers”, he adds.

As local manufacturers have become quite innovative, they also have developed a reaper that apart from harvesting makes bundles of the harvested crop also. Making of rundles by reaper saves lot of time and money of farmers, who earlier had to employ labour to make bundles of harvested crop”, said Mr Kulwant Singh, a farmer from Manikpur village, near Hanumangarh in Rajasthan. Price of the reaper having bundling facility is Rs 40,000, almost double the price of reaper ordinary. A reaper fitted on tractor is operated with the help of tractor’s engine. There are reapers which can be operated manually.

“We have fitted 2.5 bhp on reapers itself and these can be operated manually because of small size. These are good for small farmers”, says an other manufacturer.

Over the years, local manufacturers, who earlier had become popular in making carts and later tractor-trailers have carved a niche for themselves in the national market for agricultural equipment. All of them are all self-made manufacturers, who started as small-time blacksmiths and over the years became modest entrepreneurs without help from the government and so-called technical institutions.


Audience: Punjabi farmers; language: English!
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 5
Even as the districts of Mansa and Bathinda are grappling to improve their gloomy sex ratio, the state government's 'sincerity' to check female foeticide can be gauged from the fact that the Health Department does not have any literature in Punjabi to sensitise masses on the issue.

The matter came to the fore at the department's stall put up to spread awareness on female foeticide, AIDS and drug menace at a farmers' training camp here today.

The Tribune team discovered that the department had kept a newsletter called 'Reproductive and Child Health' dating back to October-December 2004 at its stall in the name of literature.

A number of copies of this newsletter were in a pathetic condition with wet pages badly glued together.

Ms Beant Kaur, a department employee, said the department had no literature in Punjabi and they had exhibited what they had received from higher authorities in New Delhi.

Sources in the department revealed that they had not received any literature in Punjabi for the past many years.

The literature that had recently been dispatched to the department included a book each on healthcare of expecting mothers and family planning (both in Hindi) and a newsletter of the National Rural Health Mission.

Though the department made a good effort to sensitise the farmers at their training camp, but placards alone won't help in the region where female foetuses were being aborted at an alarming rate.

The department's stall wore a deserted look for most of the time and it only attracted a passing glance from the farmers.

"Though the posters at the stall drew our attention, it would have been better if they had kept some leaflets or books in Punjabi," said Jalaur Singh, a farmer from Nehiawala village.

Interestingly, a voluntary organisation had recently started distributing pamphlets, printed in Punjabi, to sensitise people on female foeticide in the city.

When contacted, the Civil Surgeon, Mr H.S. Dhillon, said they had only received posters to spread awareness on issues like female foeticide, AIDS and drug addiction.

Expressing surprise, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari, said the farmers couldn't read English and there should be some literature in the language they understood.

He said he had asked the officials concerned to get some literature printed in Punjabi for which he would sanction required funds.


Tribune Impact
Sodhi removed as LAC, AG tells HC
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
The Advocate-General, Punjab, Mr Rajinder Singh Cheema, today informed the Punjab and Haryana High Court that controversial Land Acquisition Collector (LAC), PUDA, Mohali, P.S. Sodhi, has ‘‘been removed from his post’’.

During resumed hearing of the contempt petition filed by Mr Bhupinder Singh and others, seeking initiation of action against B.S. Sekhon, Sub-Divisional Magistrate-cum-LAC, Anandpur Sahib, and P.S. Sodhi, LAC, Mohali, Mr Cheema informed the Bench of Mr Justice M.M. Kumar that the Chief Secretary had informed him that Sodhi had been removed from his post.

Mr Cheema also said that formal orders in this regard were being issued.

The Tribune had recently highlighted as to how the Punjab Government had been shielding Sodhi, who had been booked twice by the Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, for corruption. Not only this, Sodhi, who is facing a slew of contempt cases, was kept posted on the lucrative post despite many complaints against him. The government had also refused permission to the Vigilance Bureau to prosecute Sodhi in the corruption cases.

Affidavits filed by many Anandpur Sahib landowners, whose land was acquired by the PUDA, not only accused Sodhi of not releasing the full amount of compensation due to them, but also alleged that he sought illegal gratification in order to settle their cases.

It is learnt that the Advocate-General had taken up the matter concerning Sodhi with the Chief Secretary and favoured speedy action.

Today, the Advocate-General also informed the Bench that he had gone through the record pertaining to the cases that had been registered against Sodhi. He stated that under the law the government could not get the cases re-opened but would abide by whatever decision the courts took in the matter.

On March 9, Mr Justice Kumar had been assured by the Advocate-General that follow-up action would be taken in the contempt matter pending in the court. The Judge had also directed counsel for the government to apprise the court about the status of the FIRs registered by the Vigilance Bureau under the Prevention of Corruption Act against Sodhi.

Today, after hearing all sides, Mr Justice Kumar reserved his judgement on the issue, but directed the Advocate-General to inform the court by tomorrow the exact steps taken by the government in the matter regarding Sodhi.


SDM raids school, finds rat droppings in wheat flour
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
With Ropar district administration officials today finding rat dropping in stocks of wheat flour at the Government Elementary School, Nayagaon, the apathy of the state education authorities today surfaced once again.

Instead of reporting back about the wheat flour to the district administration or Punsup, the agency supplying mid-day meal items, education department officials preferred to pass on items to the schools.

Today, the school authorities at Nayagaon were found cooking chapattis from the wheat flour and serving to the students. Some of the students said they felt stomach pain after eating the food.

The Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Kharar, Mr Darshan Singh, who paid a surprise visit to the school, found that a bag of wheat flour contained rat droppings. He said it was a serious matter and would forwards his findings to the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar.

After finding the rat droppings, the SDM called the District Education Officer (DEO), Mr Roshan Lal, and the Block Elementary Education Officer (BEEO), Ms Bagwati Devi, to the spot. The SDM expressed anger as the DEO did not turn up.

It appeared that the Education Department was trying to pass on the buck to Punsup. The SDM blamed the BEEO and school authorities for not reacting to the situation.

The Nayagaon school functions as the centre for storing and disbursing the mid-day meal items to at least five elementary schools at Nayagaon, Kansal, Karoran Kalan, Kharoran Khurd, Masol and Tanda, which form part of Kharar Block-I

While the BEEO claimed that her staff had inspected some of the bags which had been lifted on March 27 from the Phase II office of Punsup in Mohali, Mr Onkar Singh, the official concerned at Punsup, Ropar, told the SDM that the BEEO had given a quantity and quality certificate for the consignment.

Mr Darshan Singh said that at a high-level meeting held on April 6, 2005, officials of health department, Punsup, the FCI, and the Education Department had been briefed about the storing, handling, and quality check. But none of the instructions had been followed.

On the directions of the District Administration, the Block Elementary Education Officer directed that all the stocks of mid- day meal be immediately inspected. On the instructions of the Deputy Commissioner, the District Food and Supply Officer( DFSO), Ropar, was asked to collect the samples of turmeric and garam masala from the mid-day meal stock at the Government Elementary School, Kansal.

"We will get the samples analysed for any impurity", said the SDM.

Enquiries reveal that the stocks had come from the Ropar depot of the Food Corporation of India (FCI). And it had been supplied about 20 days ago.

It may be mentioned that five days ago, complaints of weevil- ridden flour being supplied to students had been highlighted in these columns. Mr HS Bajwa, Chairman of the Village Education Development Committee, said it was a serious matter.

On condition of anonymity, some of the teachers complained that a lot of time was wasted in organising and serving food to the students, a fact witnessed during visit to different schools in the area. The school authorities are forced to extend its recess to 40 minutes to ensure that all the students get their feed.


Pak lawyers to take up Sarabjit case with Musharraf
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Hemant Batra Chandigarh, April 5
Some leading lawyers of Pakistan, who are associated with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in Law (SAARCLAW), will soon take up the issue of grant of mercy to Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who has been condemned to death by Pakistani courts.

Giving this information, leading Gurgaon-based advocate Hemant Batra, who is Secretary-General of SAARCLAW, said that efforts were on by Pakistan lawyers to approach President General Pervez Musharraf and lawmakers in order to seek clemency for Sarabjit Singh.

A leading lawyer of Pakistan is the current president of SAARCLAW.

It may be recalled that Sarabjit’s sister, Dalbir Kaur, and elder daughter Swapandeep have also sent a “reham” (mercy) appeal to the Pakistan President.

Mr Batra also expressed concern over the recent ill-treatment of Mr Justice Rana Bhagwandas, the first Hindu to be appointed Acting Chief Justice of Pakistan, and his family members by immigration authorities at the Wagah border on March 29.

“Such incidents should be avoided. These only give a setback to the SAARC movement,” he added.

Talking about the growing demand to allow foreign lawyers to practice in Indian courts, Mr Batra, who is a managing partner in a leading law firm, Kesar Dass B. & Associates, Gurgaon, said there was nothing wrong in the same.

But, he added, India should ensure that Indian lawyers are also allowed to practice in foreign courts. “Guidelines can be framed. The markets are opening up. There is a growing need for lawyers well-versed in foreign laws. The same goes for India. When foreign companies want to set up shop here, they get in touch with us to work out the modalities. I think, it is only a matter of time before India opens its doors to foreign lawyers and vice versa,” he said.

Incidentally, Mr Batra is one of the pioneers in starting legal knowledge processes outsourcing (KPO) from India.

“Basically, what we are doing is to do ground work for multi-national companies. We also prepare databases for such companies, carry out due diligence for their projects in other countries etc. But, I would like to see one-stop legal offices, which offer multi-disciplinary jobs, opening in the country. We have the capability to get work from the USA, the UK and other countries,” he added.

Mr Batra also disclosed that he was currently working towards cementing a tie-up between the Scotland Yard of the UK and the law enforcement agencies of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. “The tie-up with Pakistan is almost done. We are working on India also,” he stated.


Badal warns Shutrana MLA
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 5
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today issued a warning to Shutrana MLA Nirmal Singh Shutrana and other SAD activists for having shown black flags to SAD general secretary and former Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh at a rally held at Badshahpur village, near Patran, recently.

Stating this here today, SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal said his party had taken note of Mr Shutrana’s “anti-party” activities at Capt Kanwaljit Singh’s Badshahpur rally and added that “this time Mr Shutrana has been let off with a written warning and in future such indiscipline will not be tolerated”.

Mr Badal, who was here at the invitation of SAD district president Inder Mohan Bajaj, said his party had formed a four-member committee to check incidents of indiscipline in the party. In future, action would be taken against leaders indulging in indiscipline on the basis of the committee’s report.

Speaking on the issue of a separate gurdwara management committee for Haryana, Mr Badal said there was no need for such a committee and the Congress was creating mischief in Haryana by instigating a section of Sikh leadership.

Taking pot shots at Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Badal said once his party came back to power, he would “reverse all policies, plans and programmes of Capt Amarinder Singh since they had not done any good to the people of the state”.

On a query about cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu being pitted against Capt Amarinder Singh from the Patiala Assembly segment in the next Assembly elections, Mr Badal said such a move was under consideration and he would have further discussions with BJP senior leader Arun Jaitley.


Councillors threaten to resign
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 5
Nine out of 13 councillors of the Municipal Council, Bassi Pathana, have threatened to resign from their posts as the council president in connivance with local MLA Dr Harbans Lal had been indulging in undemocratic practices.

In a press note issued here today nine councillors have alleged that the council president, Ms Amita Tangri, had called a meeting of the council in which various development works for the town were to be passed as the Chief Minister had given a grant of Rs 25 lakh to the council for development. They alleged that they were not provided with the details of the development works to be initiated and nine councillors walked out of the meeting and only three members remained sitting there and the quorum was not complete.

But to their surprise the next day they found that the meeting had been cleared in the proceeding book and the signature of Dr Harbans Lal MLA, were attained on the proceeding book in spite of the fact that he did not attend the meeting rather he was busy in a function of Dr Girja Vayas, Chairperson, National Women Commission, held at BBSB Engineering College that day.

They demanded an enquiry into the bogus attendance of the MLA.

They alleged that the development works for only three out of the total 13 wards of the town had been cleared and rest of the wards had been completely ignored.


Arvind Khanna has been mostly absent from House
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
The Congress MLA from Sangrur, Mr Arvind Khanna, against whom the Enforcement Directorate( ED) had recently launched an investigation with regard to funds from abroad, has been mostly staying away from the Punjab Assembly sessions.

He did not turn up even for a day in the House during the recent Budget session, which concluded on March 17. The session had begun on February 20. Information collected by The Tribune from the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Secretariat revealed that Mr Khanna did not mark his attendance on any day during the session in the register meant for MLAs.

Last year, when the Assembly session was held for four days in October, Mr Khanna did not attend it. However, in 2005 when the Budget session was held in March, he had marked his attendance in the register on March 22 though that session was about three weeks’ long.

If any MLA stays away from the Assembly session for 60 days in a row, he can be disqualified from the House under Article 190 of the Constitution.

Most of the MLAs of the ruling party as was as of the Opposition say that they have not seen Mr Khanna in the House for a long time. He came to the House, perhaps, during his first two years as MLA in 2002-03.

Mr Khanna had won the last Assembly elections from Sangrur by a margin of 19,132 votes. He had managed to get the Congress ticket because of his rapport with Mr Natwar Singh and other senior Congress leaders in Delhi.

Even as an “outsider”, Mr Khanna had made his name in Sangrur district by providing health services to people on the doorstep through the Umeed Foundation, an NGO, that functioned under his over- all supervision. He had created an image of “provider” in that area.

It has been reported in a section of the Press that the NGO being run by Mr Khanna was allegedly receiving funds from abroad in violation of Sections 4 and 23 of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. MLAs, MPs, journalists and certain other sections of the people are not allowed to accept such funds. It was reported today that the ED had sought the prosecution of Mr Khanna for violating the Act.


Lawyers block traffic
Protest against district status to Mohali
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 5
Continuing with their protest, advocates of the district court today again blocked traffic on the Ropar-Nawanshahr road for about one hour protesting against the grant of district status to Mohali by the Punjab Government. The agitation here gained momentum as the Zila Bachao Sangharsh Committee again started its protest in the absence of any favourable response to their demands.

Hundreds of commuters on this stretch are facing inconvenience here due to the protest, but advocates said they had taken this extreme step of blocking traffic every day on this stretch for one hour as with the creation of Mohali district they would suffer a lot.

In spite of the fact that they had been staging a dharna in the district court complex for more than a month, the government has not shown any inclination to hear their grievances. Mohali, Kharar and Kurali are the towns from where the lawyers were getting most of the cases related to crime, land dispute and others. Now with the grant of district status to Mohali which will include Kharar and Kurali, the number of cases would automatically decline here, the advocate complaint.

The Zila Bachao Sangharsh Committee, which again resorted to protest had given a call for a rally to be held on April 8. Initially, the committee had demanded the withdrawal of the district status to Mohali. But now in the absence of support of MLAs on this issue, they are asking for compensation for separating Mohali from Ropar district.

The Sangharash committee has demanded the inclusion of two more subdivisions in the district, more industries in the district and grant of division headquarter status to Ropar. But the advocates are still adamant on their demand to withdraw district status to Mohali.


32,436 get work under job guarantee scheme
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur April 5
The Employment Guarantee Scheme launched by the Union Government has provided employment to 32,436 persons in the district. Hoshiarpur is the only district in the state that has been covered under the scheme for the time being.

The Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, Mr D.K. Tiwari, said 1,236 out of the total 1,317 villages of the districts had been covered under the scheme.

As per directions under the scheme, the panchayats were told to produce resolutions for carrying out labour-intensive development projects. The resolutions were then approved by Zila Parishads.

The unemployed poor youth of the area were being ensured employment for at least 100 days per year under the scheme. They were being paid minimum wages fixed by the state government. Till date, Rs 12 crore has been spent on providing assured employment in Hoshiarpur.


Docs take out protest rally
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 5
Agitating doctors and paramedical staff took out a rally from the Government Rajindera Hospital to the Chief Minister’s new Moti Bagh residence in protest against the state government’s decision to hand over powers to Zila Parishads to employ doctors in the 1,310 rural dispensaries, spread across the state on contract basis.

Hundreds of doctors and other paramedical staff, including pharmacists, staff nurses, laboratory technicians, radiographers and class IV staff, assembled at the Rajindera Hospital, under the banner of ‘‘Save Health Services Struggle Committee’’ in the forenoon and expressed resentment against the state government’s decision.

Later, they took out a procession through the main areas of the city which blocked traffic for hours. Once the agitating doctors reached the YPS chowk, 200 meters away from the Chief Minister’s residence, they were stopped by the police.

The ADC (Development), Mr Jagwant Singh Brar, reached the YPS chowk where he was handed over a memorandum by the doctors.

The doctors said if their demands were not met by April 13, then they would launch a statewide agitation from April 14.


ASI to set up office at Ferozepore
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, April 5
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided to open a regional sub-circle office here to preserve the numerous war monuments located here.

Addressing mediapersons here at DC Conference Hall, officials from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the ASI, led by Mr S.P. Singh, Director General National Museums, said their team was excited to see the immense wealth of historical war monuments situated in the town.

Mr Singh said these monuments were initially being maintained by the Central Government but after the new notification in 1962, the work related to their upkeep was handed over to the state government.

Regrettably these monuments, which include Anglo Sikh War Memorial Ferozshah, War Pillar Mudki, War Pillar Mishriwala, Saragarhi Memorial Gurdwara, had been in a state of neglect ever since, he said. The team also visited the house in old city where revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev used to congregate and chalk out strategies against the British rule.

Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, Commissioner, said the decision of the ASI to open the office would go a long way in making the town a tourist attraction and bringing it on the national heritage map.

Mr K.P.S. Bhadoria, Superintendent Archaeologist, Chandigarh Circle, said he was surprised at seeing so many historical war monuments here, which, due to lack of upkeep, were in dilapidated condition.


Autorickshaw operators block traffic
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, April 5
Autorickshaw operators of Pathankot today blocked traffic on the Pathankot-Jammu road for about two hours to protest against the alleged victimisation at the hands of mini-bus operators. The auto operators sat on dharna on the highway, paralysing the traffic. The local authorities remained a mute spectator as thousands of commuters suffered after being trapped in the jam.

After two hours the police authorities called the protesters for talks. They then lifted the blockade.

The auto operators kept their vehicles off the road continuously for the third day today. They are protesting against the illegal nakas raised by the mini-bus operators. The operators are alleging that the mini-bus operators are not allowing them to operate in the suburbs of Pathankot.

They have raised nakas at all the exit points of the town. Whenever, an autorickshaw operator takes passengers in suburbs they stop the vehicle at exit points and force the passengers to get down. As per the permits issued to autorickshaw drivers by the district administration, they can carry passengers within 18 km of the municipal limits of Pathankot.

The autorickshaw operators also allege that they have repeatedly written to the local administration on the issue. However, no action has been taken.

The protesters earlier had submitted a memorandum of their demands to the SDM. They had threatened to intensify the agitation in case their demands were not met. There are about 5,000 autorickshaw operators in Pathankot.


Scorpio presented to Harmandar Sahib
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 5
Mahindra and Mahindra today presented their first new Scorpio model W SUV to Harmandar Sahib.

The president of automotive division, Dr Pawan Goenka, presented the keys to Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta, member, SGPC.

Dr Goenka said it had been the tradition of the company to hand over the first four vehicles of every new model to four premier sites of various religions.


Procurement of wheat begins
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 5
As the arrival of wheat in various markets of the district is slow, the administration today started the wheat procurement.

Ms Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, accompanied by Capt Parveen Vij, District Food and Civil Supply Controller, and officials of various agencies inaugurated the procurement process at the Sirhind grain market. Hardly 250 quintals of wheat arrived in the market.

Ms Talwar appealed to the farmers to bring the wheat as per specification to avoid harassment.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, she said last year 2.49 lakh MT of wheat had arrived in various purchase centres of the district. She said this year 2.7 lakh MT of wheat is expected to arrive.


Lok Suvidha camp held
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 5
The district administration today organised a Lok Suvidha camp at Mullepur village in the district to redress the grievances of the people at their door step.

Mr Sadhu Singh Dharmsot, Parliamentary Secretary, inaugurated the camp. Ms Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, presided over the camp and redressed the grievances of the people on the spot. Officers of all departments were present at the camp.

In his inaugural address, Sadhu Singh highlighted the various achievements of the government as well as the development projects initiated for every section of society. He said the Chief Minister, Capt. Amrinder Singh, had directed all officers to redress the grievances of the people on priority basis. He appreciated the good work being done by the district administration in this regard. He said such camps were proving to be a boon for the people as they did not have to visit the district headquarters to get their work done.

Ms Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, gave detailed information about these camps and urged the people to make full use of these camps. Heavy rush was witnessed during the camp. Long queues were witnessed at the counter of Social Security Department, where senior citizens, widows and pension seekers queued up to fill the forms. Ms. Amrit Bala, District Social Security Officer, said more than 300 forms for various types of schemes were filled.


Guidelines issued on transfers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
The Punjab Government today issued guidelines for the general postings and transfers of officials. A spokesman of the government said transfers would be made by June 30. However, the process of transfers in the Department of Education should be completed in June, 2006.

For the Departments of Cooperation and Food and Civil Supplies, the transfers may be made from July 1 to 31.

Giving details of the broad guidelines to be adopted for transfers, he said that according to the policy of the government, transfers would be kept to the bare minimum and made against vacant posts except where the transfers were justified on administrative or compassionate grounds. Priority had been fixed for couple cases, handicapped employees and others.


7 students injured in clash
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 5
Seven students were injured seriously in a clash at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College last evening. The injured students belonged to the third and the final year. They were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Fatehgarh Sahib.

Sharp-edged weapons were used in the clash. The injured have been identified as Gurtej Singh, Mandeep Singh, Sandeep Singh, Jasbir Singh, Rupinder Singh, Hardeep Singh and Gagandeep Singh. The police recorded the statements of both the groups and registered a case.


Coordinator clarifies on demand draft issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
Prof Rajesh Gill, Coordinator, UGC-NET, has stated that the office of the Coordinator, UGC-NET is receiving a number of applications for UGC-NET examination to be held on 25th June 2006, along with wrong bank drafts. This is to inform all the applicants that the demand draft enclosed with the application form must be drawn in favour of the Secretary, University Grants Commission, New Delhi, payable at SBI Branch number 7687, Delhi University Campus, New Delhi, as instructed by the UGC, New Delhi.

According to a press release issued by Controller of Examinations, Panjab University, the date of trials under sports category is July 4, 2006 as mentioned on Page Nos. 13, 59 and 72 of the CET Prospectus but inadvertently at page 20 the trial date was printed as July 6 instead of July 4.

Panjab University will be conducting CET for admission to B.A. LL.B. (honours) five-year integrated course on May 20, 2006 at University Institute of Legal Studies, PU, Chandigarh, and Panjab University Regional Centre, Ludhiana.

The last date for submission of forms is April 19, 2006, up to 5 pm. The centre for examination would be Chandigarh only.


School drama team to perform in Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 5
With a view to strengthening the bond of friendship between the two neighbouring countries, the Spring Dale Educational Society (SDES) under the aegis of Punarjot (Centre for Preservation and Promotion of Heritage of Punjab) will stage a play “Border-Border” at Alhamra Hall, Lahore, on April 6.

The play would be the part of the ‘Third Panj Pani Theatre Festival’. The drama team comprising 24 students and three other members will cross over to Pakistan from the Wagah joint checkpost on April 5 and will return on April 10.

‘Border-Border’ will be jointly staged by the society in collaboration with Ajoka of Lahore. The play has already been staged at Amritsar, Delhi, Lahore and Islamabad.

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