P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Rain damages standing crop, procured wheat
By Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 23
Unprecedented rain in the area today damaged standing crop and produce brought in mandis by farmers. Heavy rain for one hour today morning took farmers and mandi officials by surprise.

Sources here said wheat lying in the open in mandis suffered maximum damage. The farmers, who had not sold their wheat, would have to wait till it dries and is accepted by the purchase agencies. The procured wheat in gunny bags by the agencies also suffered damage. The wheat in bags became wet due to rain. Officials now would have to make it special efforts to save procured wheat from damage.

The sources also alleged insufficient plastic covers for the procured wheat also posed problems for mandi officials.

The farmers who have not harvested the crop also suffered. The farmers now would have to wait for the crop to dry for harvesting. This can delay the sowing crop too. Strong showers may affect the yield also.

Farmers’ organisations have demanded special survey be ordered to give compensation to the farmers whose crops were damaged due to unprecedented rains.

Besides, the farmers of the plains and the farmers in Kandi areas of the district also demanded compensation. Most of the farmers in the Dhar sub-division of the district alleged yield this year has remained very low due to absence of rain in December and January. It was just drought-like situation in the hill areas. The recent rain has added to their woes. It damaged whatever crop was left in the fields.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture told The Tribune the district administration would be directed to carry out a special survey for loss caused to farmers due to unprecedented rain. Steps would be taken to prevent harassment of farmers whose produce had gone wet in mandis due to rain. The procurement agencies would be directed to take steps to help such farmers.


Sukhbir sees scam in move to import wheat
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 23
Dubbing the Rs 50 a quintal wheat bonus as an “insult” to Punjab farmers, senior Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal ) leader Sukhbir Singh Badal has seen a “deep-rooted wheat trader-politician nexus-effected conspiracy” behind the UPA government's move to import 30 lakh tonnes of wheat at a price which is much more than the MSP fixed for Punjab farmers.

Rejecting the bonus, the SAD leader also demanded a minimum bonus of Rs 250-300 per quintal to farmers of Punjab, where farm input prices have jumped too high due to “anti-farmer” policies of the Captain Amarinder Singh-led government. "Despite the fact that farm input costs have been shooting at a very high pace, the Congress government has failed to extend any relief to farmers. The bonus of Rs 50 a quintal is not even peanuts when compared to input price hike. Moreover, bonus has been announced by the UPA government only when 70-80 per cent wheat crop had been purchased by private traders. There is a very strong politician-trader nexus and wheat trader lobby in Delhi which has not only hatched a conspiracy to manipulate the things according to its own suitability but which has also made the government to announce bonus only when almost entire crop had already been purchased by private traders at a low price," alleged Mr Badal.

He questioned the wisdom of the UPA-led government in importing foreign wheat at a price of Rs1150 a quintal. "When they are ready to pay such a huge price for imported wheat crop, why cannot they (UPA government) pay the same price to Punjab farmer? Are they trying to give an indication to Punjab farmers or farmers of the country that they were no more needed by this country? Actually, there is a huge scam behind the wheat import move. As part of this two-pronged scam, firstly, private trader was allowed to fetch wheat at a low price and then it was shown that there was a shortage of reserve stocks so that wheat could be imported at astronomical prices. I think Capt Amarinder Singh was not even aware about the announcement of bonus by the Central Government, as a day before the announcement, Captain Amarinder Singh had categorically said that Punjab farmers would not be provided any bonus this time," he said.

Mr Badal said the Punjab Government had failed to take up the matter of awarding of relief to potato growers of Punjab with the Centre.

Promising that the SAD would make some policy to waive off loans of Punjab farmers if his party came to power, Mr Badal expressed concern over deteriorating financial state of farmers with each passing day. "We are going to hold district- level dharnas from Tuesday to highlight problems of farmers," he said.


Arhtiyas hail bonus on wheat
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 23
The Federation of Arhtiya Associations of Punjab has welcomed the bonus of Rs 50 per quintal on purchase of wheat by procurement agencies. The association president, Mr Bal Krishan Singla, in a press note said farmers would be consoled on the low procurement price of wheat offered earlier by the government. However, he added that it was discouraging that the bonus would be given only on the quantity procured by the government agencies and the farmers, who sold wheat to private traders would not be given this bonus. He flayed the Central Government that had announced the bonus late.

Mr Singla said either the Central Government or state government should pay the difference between the sold price to the private traders and 700. He added that the total quantity sold to the private traders till today is about 6 lakh tonnes and the average rate of purchase by the private parties was about Rs 670 per quintal.

Mr Singla appeal led to the Chief Minister Punjab to consider their demands and announce the payment of bonus to the farmers, who sold their produce to the private traders.


Wheat bonus welcomed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
The Chairman of the All-India Kisan-Khet Mazdoor Congress (AIKKMC), Mr Shamsher Singh Surjewala, has welcomed the Union Government's decision to give Rs 50 per quintal as bonus to wheat growers.

In a statement issued here today, Mr Surjewala said with the bonus the increase in the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat this year was the highest ever since the inception of the Agricultural Price Commission in the country.

Claiming that the decision was an indicator of the “deep-rooted personal commitment” of Ms Sonia Gandhi as well as that of the Congress to the cause of the farmers, he said the AIKKMC had been pursuing this agenda relentlessly. Mr Surjewala said the fact that the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, made this announcement immediately after his visit to Haryana, was the vindication of the stand taken by the AIKKMC.

Reiterating his demand for an economic package for the farmers belonging to the northern region, Mr Surjewala said a delegation of farmers would soon meet Ms Gandhi and the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to persuade them for the package.


Board-approved books unavailable; students in lurch
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, April 23
Academic session of the schools affiliated with the Punjab School Education Board has commenced from the first week of April but teachers and students of schools are exasperated as books are not available in the market. The syllabi of many subjects have been changed , but books are not available.

Moreover, some new subjects like Environmental Studies have been introduced from this session . The books needed in this subject are from classes 1 to VI and have to be both in Hindi and English medium, but have not come.

In fact, books of important subjects like Science , English , mathematics and social science are not available. The schools are supposed to buy these books from the board's depot as the board publishes these books .

A visit to the district depot of the board in Punjabi Bhavan revealed that books have not been received from the Board and hence the students, parents and teachers are upset.

A clerk of the depot said Mr Ramesh Kumar, manager of district book depot had gone to Mohali where the office of the PSEB is located to find about the availability of the books. He will be able to give the information when he returns this evening.

The students are in a quandary whether to make notes from English medium books or wait for Punjabi medium books . Ms Shashi Sharma a teacher of Everest Public school said “It is a torture for teachers to conduct serious teaching in the classroom without books. A number of books are not available. For class VII mathematics books in English medium, physical education in Hindi medium, , science in English medium are not available. The board gives one answer to our query “books are under print,”

For class VI books of mathematics, Science and Hindi are not available while for class VIII, English books both general and Grammar and for Class X mathematics , science and agriculture in Hindi medium and for Classes Plus 1 & Plus 2 elective books in English, Punjabi and Hindi have not come and also for these classes books in Agriculture in Hindi are not available. Last year too, we got all books after summer vacation in July.”

Mr Rajinder Sharma, president of the Association of Punjab School Education Board Affiliated School said,” I have faxed today to Mr HS Sidhu Chairman of the PSEB, Mohali and have apprised him of the difficulties the teachers and students were facing and asked him to make the books available as soon as possible.” He said teachers and students were facing problems as some books are not available in Punjabi medium while others were available in Punjabi but not in English and Hindi and studies were suffering.


Congress, SAD charged up ahead of Assembly poll
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 23
As the elections to the state Vidhan Sabha are approaching, the two major political parties - the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal - have intensified the campaign to woo the people of the state.

Both parties have been in power on rotation in the state since the formation of the state in 1966. Since the Congress is ruling the state at present, the SAD led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal feels that it is their turn to capture the power in February 2007. But the present situation indicates that both parties are equally posed and neither can claim an edge over the other.

Immediately after the conclusion of the budget session, Mr Badal launched an “anti-repression” campaign against the Congress government led by Capt Amarinder Singh. He has been referring to the anti-corruption campaign by the Chief Minister as oppressive.

The SAD campaign is being spearheaded by Mr Badal and his son Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is being projected as the next Chief Minister, notwithstanding the tall declarations by the party supremo that he would not contest the Vidhan Sabha election. Mr Badal claims that there is a wave in the favour of his party because of anti-incumbency factor and the “rampant corruption prevailing in the state”.

However, it will not be an easy task for Mr Badal to come to power as he is facing problems within his own party, which is a divided house with two factions: one comprised of Tohra loyalists and the other comprises rest of the leaders.

On the Congress front, Capt Amarinder Singh is trying to make up with the dissidents and has succeeded to some extent. But there are a few dissent voices that can cause problems for him. The Chief Minister continues to face hostility from Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar. Lately the PPCC chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, has raised his voice against the much-hyped mega projects worth Rs 50,000 crore.

The Chief Minister has been trying to project the achievements of his government during the past four years. Besides, annulling the river waters treaties, Capt Amarinder Singh also ensured that there was no distress sale of wheat and paddy in the state. As a matter of fact, the smooth procurement of wheat, paddy and cotton has been the mainstay of the government during the past four years.

He made another major gain by securing a bonus of Rs 50 per quintal for wheat for the farmers and the SAD has been left with no agenda to criticise his government on the agriculture front.

Besides introduction of the license system in liquor policy and bus service to Nankana Sahib are the other achievements of the government.

However, the claims of fighting corruption have met with utter failure. The anti-corruption campaign has remained confined to political rivalry.

The marginal political groups in the state have not been able to organise themselves well. The BJP is the next largest group, which has remained a coalition partner with the SAD. But the state of affairs of the BJP are far from satisfactory.

Their only asset appears to be Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is a rising star on the political horizon with the capacity to pull the crowd as an articulate speaker.


Barnala man in Rai Bareli poll fray
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 23
Mr Mitt Singh Sehjra (64), a resident of Sehjra village , 16 km from Barnala, is all set to create another history - this time he is contesting from the Rai Bareli parliamentary constituency against Ms Sonia Gandhi , Congress President, Mr Vinay Katiyar, a BJP candidate, and others as an Independent.

Mr Sehjra filed his nomination papers for the Rai Bareli parliamentary byelections on April 19. Mr Sehjra told the Tribune today that his nomination papers had been found in order during scrutiny and the election symbol to candidates would be allotted tomorrow.

Mr Sehjra is an agriculturist .He owns 15 acres of land . In 1962 he joined the Army but left it four years later.

Mr Sehjra has already contested Assembly/ parliamentary elections for about 40 times. Besides , he has filed nomination papers five times each for the election to the posts of President and the Vice-President of India. But every time his papers were rejected on technical grounds.

Mr Sehjra contested against Indira Gandhi in1978 from Chikmanglur (Karnataka). In 1989, he filed papers from seven parliamentary constituencies in Punjab.

Talking to The Tribune over the phone today, Mr Sehjra said that he along with a jatha of 10 persons would leave Barnala for Rai Bareli on March 24 and remain in the Rai Bareli parliamentary constituency till May 8, the election day. He said he would launch his campaign at a grand scale after reaching Rai Bareli.

He said he would daily cover 20 villages barefoot and sleep under the open sky till the elections were over.

Mr Sehjra said during campaigning he would either not eat ‘roti” or eat it free of cost from the people. He said he would not spend a single penny on his election campaign to send the message to the people that if they wanted elections free from corruption, they should not expect anything from the candidates.


School teachers seek acceptance of their genuine demands
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, April 23
The Punjab Private Schools Organisation (PPSO), an apex body of the non-government schools in the state, today demanded the "approved status" for over 20,000 schools in the state on the Maharashtra pattern for their "contribution in the field of education".

Demanding this through a resolution at an educational conference here today, the chief adviser of the PPSO, Prof R.S. Saini, urged the Punjab Government to amend the Compulsory and Free Education Act, 1960, to pave the way for the grant of 100 per cent financial grant to them.

Putting the recent controversy over the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the closure of the private schools to rest, the conference coordinator, Mr Tejpal Singh, informed that the high court decision was restricted to the PUDA-developed colonies only.

No non-recognised and non-affiliated school has been shut down as the result of the writ petition in the high court, he said, quoting the statement of the Punjab Advocate-General, Mr R. S. Cheema.

Demanding the allotment of 1,500 square yard land for the middle schools and 5,000 square yards for the senior secondary schools from the Punjab Government at control rates, the working president, Mr Didar Singh Dhindsa, said this would go a long way in spreading the education network throughout the state.

Ms Naginder Kaur Sahota, president of the Ropar district unit, wanted that the non-recognised schools should be recognised without any pre-conditions keeping in mind their contributions in the field.

The president of the Mohali district unit, Mr Ranjit Singh Sarsini,wanted that the minimum strength of 30 students for the grant of school status should be waived.

In his concluding remarks, Mr Manjit Singh Kauli, president, urged the Punjab Government to accept genuine demands of the teaching community as the teachers were peaceful and law-abiding sections of society. However, the private school management would be forced to take to the streets if the demands were not considered immediately by the Punjab Government, he warned.

Meanwhile, the conference demanded that condition of getting a school up to matriculation affiliated with the Punjab School Education Board(PSEB) should be done away with. Only10+2 schools having medical and non-medical courses should be affiliated with the board, it was argued in a resolution passed at the conference.


Ex-servicemen wing of SAD decries govt
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 23
Brig (retd) K.S. Kahlon, President, ex-servicemen wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal (ESWSAD) (Badal) said Punjab had only 16 Polyclinics against 18 districts of the state whereas Haryana had 19 clinics.

He was addressing a district-level meeting of ex-servicemen’s wing of the SAD (B) at Tarn Taran here today. The meeting was organised by Lt Col (retd) Ajit Singh Valtoha, district president of the ESWSAD.

Brig Kahlon informed as per the December 2004 census, the population of ex-servicemen in Punjab was 13 per cent, the highest in the country. Even then they were not being provided proper medical facilities, he added.

Condemning the Congress-run government in the state, Brig Kahlon claimed not even a single ex-serviceman had been given government job against the quota of 13 per cent in the past four years.

He described government policies as anti-Jawan and farmer. Price of cotton was fixed around Rs 1700 this year whereas it was Rs 2500 five years ago. The state was shelling out crores to purchase power from other sources as no major power plant was set up in the state since Independence.


SAD’s focus will be on youth
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
The Shiromani Akali Dal’s main focus will be on youth power in the coming Assembly elections. A clear hint in this connection was given yesterday by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary of the party.

The SAD is all set to launch a new youth organisation. It will be named Student Organisation of India. It will be an off-shoot of the youth wing of the party, the new organisational set up of which will be announced on May 1. The SOI will be an outfit of youth from colleges and universities. The SAD seems to be aware that there was a lot of frustration among youth, most of whom temperamentally remain against the ruling establishment and authority. More over, there is very high rate of unemployment in the state at the moment. Obviously, the SAD would like to cash in on these issues.

Unfolding the operative part of his party’s under preparation election manifesto for the coming Assembly elections, Mr Badal told The Tribune that if the SAD returned to power, it would set up special youth board with its chairman holiday cabinet rank. He said the board would interact with all sections of youth and redress there problems. He said the Punjab Institute of Sports would be set up on the pattern of the National Institute of Sports.

As many as nine major sports disciplines would be part of the of the institute, he added.

Asked about the arrest of Daljit Singh Bittu by the Barnala police, Mr Badal said that it was well planned move of the Capt Amarinder Singh Government. He said that the government wanted to project him as a political leader.


‘Anti-Sikh’ policies would cost Congress dear: Badal
Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, April 23
Warning the Congress party of dire consequences for its “anti-Sikh” policies, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), said the party was interfering in religious affairs of the community to serve its political ends.

Mr Badal stated this after laying the foundation stones of Sri Guru Arjun Dev Skin and General Hospital and Training Institute for Nursing here today. He also held meetings with party MLAs and members of the SGPC to finalise programmes for celebrating centenary functions.

Mr Badal said the Congress wanted to curb the role of the SGPC by instigating Sikhs of Haryana for constituting separate body. He said the SGPC was the supreme body of the Sikhs, which was looking after the religious affairs of the community and there was provision under the Nehru-Tara Singh pact for introducing amendments to the SGPC by two-third majority.

Commenting on the role of Sarna brothers, Mr Badal alleged that they were playing in the hands of Capt Amarinder Singh.


Rail traffic suspended for two hours
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 23
Rail traffic on the Jalandhar-Pathankot section remained suspended for more than two hours when the Jammu Tawi-Jamnagar Express, bound for Jamnagar, collided with a truck (PB-07-9445) loaded with wheat while it was passing the level crossing between Darapur-Moonak Kalan near Tanda, about 36 km from here, this afternoon.

According to the Station Master of the Tanda railway station, the truck driver escaped by jumping from the truck when he saw the train coming while passing the level crossing. The train pushed the truck to some distance on the track.

As a result, it was completely damaged and the wreckage of the truck was badly trapped in the train engine. The loaded wheat was scattered there.

On receiving information, the Railways authorities reached the spot and with the help of labourers of the nearby FCI godown and people of the area, removed the wheat and cleared the track. The wreckage of the truck was removed with the help of gas cutters.

Another railway engine was requisitioned from the Dasuya railway station and the traffic was resumed at 4.45 p.m. According to official sources, the truck was going to unload the wheat in the FCI godown.


SGPC chief lashes out at Sarnas
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 23
The SGPC will welcome the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (DSGPC) for organising “nagar kirtans” to Pakistan if it is organised under the aegis of the SGPC to celebrate the centenary celebrations.

Mr Avtar Singh, President, SGPC, told this to The Tribune at a seminar on female foeticide and violence against women at the Sri Guru Ram Dass Institute of Medical Sciences here today.

Lashing out at the Sarna brothers for playing into the hands of the Congress, the SGPC chief said he was ready for debating any issue relating to the Sikhs.

He said the centenary celebrations would be organised in Pakistan by the Pakistan Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (PSGPC) with the support of the SGPC as it’s the representative body of the Sikhs.

On the claims of the DSGPC for getting 5,000 visas for devotees to participate in the celebrations, he said the SGPC would be able to procure more visas than the DSGPC.

Commenting on the directives issued by Akal Takht to the community on female feticide and violence against women, the SGPC President said there were clear guidelines on gender equality in Guru Granth Sahib. He said it was a matter of great concern that certain persons were going against Sikh tenets.

Mr Avtar Singh said a committee would be formed to chalk out a plan for educating people about female foeticide.


Badal promises Rs 50 lakh for Tarn Taran

Tarn Taran, April 23
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, SAD, has assured that he would get Rs 50 lakh grant released by Rajya Sabha MPs of the party for the development of the town on the occasion of fourth centenary anniversary of Guru Arjun Dev’s martyrdom.

Mr Badal was addressing party workers at the residence of Mr Harmit Singh Sandhu, MLA, here today. Mr Jatinder Kumar Sood, president, local Municipal Council, apprised the party supremo with the problems of the town.

He collected views of the party MLAs, MPs, members of the SGPC and other office-bearers of the SAD regarding arrangements for celebrating religious occasions. — OC


Amarinder honours Pran, Dev Anand
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, honoured eminent film personalities at the valedictory function of the Media Entertainment Summit in Mumbai last evening.

A spokesperson for the Punjab Government said today that the film personalities honoured by the Chief Minister included, Dev Anand, Pran, Khyyam, Mohammed Rafi (posthumously), Manoj Kumar, B.R Chopra, Kamini Kaushal, Mahendra Kapoor, Dharmendra, Jeetinder, Dara Singh, Prem Chopra, Amrish Puri (posthumously), Subhash Ghai, Yash Chopra, Om Puri, Mehar Mittal, Bhupender, Ranjit, Nazneen Bedi, Anil Dhawan, Uttam Singh, Pankaj Kapoor, Gufi Paintal, Raza Murad, Rana Jung Bahadur, Avtar Gill, Joginder, Maalkiat, Mangal Dhillon and Deep Dhillon.

Some prominent NRIs were also honoured at the function.


Drinking water for pilgrims soon
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur April 23
Pilgrims going to the Chintpurni temple from Hoshiarpur can get fresh water enroute as the government has decided to provide 54 stand posts each comprising 10 taps along the 27-km road in the hilly areas of kandi.

An announcement to this effect was made by the Minister for Food and Civil Supplies and Water Supply, Mr Avtar Henry. He was here to lay the foundation stone of water augmentation scheme to be brought up in the Chohal area. The scheme will help augment water supply in five villages of the area.

Mr Henry said most pilgrims traveling by bicycles or on foot to the Chintpurni shrine faced drinking water problem especially during summers. The scheme to bring up stand posts along the roads has been planned keeping in view the problems of such pilgrims. Besides the stand post, the temples on the road would also be provided drinking water connections.


376 driving licenses issued at camp
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 23
A Lok Suvidha Camp was organised at BAV Senior Secondary School, Balachaur, 20 km from here, yesterday to provide hassle-free delivery of services relating to various departments to the people belonging to as many as 31 villages falling under the Balachaur Kanungo circle.

Mr Parkash Singh, Parliamentary Secretary, inaugurated the camp. Mr Krishan Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Surinder Pal Singh, SSP, Mr Amarjit Singh Shahi, SDM, along with officials of the different departments were present on the occasion.

The departments put up service counters and exhibitions. As many as 376 driving licenses, 410 medical certificates, 55 birth/death certificates, 46 ration cards were issued, 110 mutations were done, 38 pension cases under different categories were also sanctioned on the spot. As many as 147 patients and 78 cattle were examined at the medical check-up camps organised by the health and animal husbandry departments, respectively.

Cheques amounting to Rs 21 lakh were disbursed as loans by different banks to the beneficiaries under various self-employment schemes.


Killing of goldsmith: police clueless
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 23
Even after 24 hours there is no breakthrough in the killing and looting of goldsmith, in the city. Mr Sunil Kumar Bhatia and his brother, Mr Satish Kumar Bhatia of Bhatia Jewellers in Guru Bazaar in the walled city was shot at by six unidentified persons and looted diamonds and cash worth lakhs. While Sunil was declared brought dead at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, Satish received injuries and was in shock. Both were residents of a cooperative colony on the Majitha road.

Sunil was cremated today afternoon. Mr S.S. Srivastav, district police chief said they could start investigations only after the cremation of the deceased as the main eyewitness (Satish Bhatia) was in shock due to the incident. He said the police questioned many persons present on the spot when the incident happened. He said there was no clue about the culprits.

There is sense of insecurity among businessmen in the Guru Bazaar area, known for jewellers and goldsmiths. Established by Guru Arjan Dev, the area has emerged as big gold and diamond market. Earlier too such incidents have been reported from the area. A year back unidentified persons looted a jeweller at the same place by throwing chilli powder in his eyes. Due to narrow lanes of Guru Bazaar, goldsmiths park vehicles far from shops. In the evening they take cash and jewellery to their houses thus become easy victim of robbers.

Mr Sunil Bhatia and Mr Satish Bhatia were in a rickshaw and going to take their vehicle parked in the Lohgarh area when the incident took place. There is resentment amongst jewellers and goldsmiths.


Man shoots father

Fazilka, April 23
Mohinder Singh Jhuggianwala (60), an agriculturist of Jhuge Kehar Singh village, 10 km from here on the Malout road, was allegedly shot dead by one of his sons Yadvinder Singh, alias Roman, last night.

According to the FIR lodged with the Sadar police, the victim’s another son Jaswinder Singh, alias Rocky, was an eyewitness to the incident. He told the police that the accused first shot at his father in the foot with his licensed .32 bore pistol. Immediately, he fired another shot on the face killing him on the spot. Roman later fled the scene.

The domestic servant of the family revealed that the Mohinder had some altercation with the accused in the afternoon the same day. — OC


Two members of contract killers’ gang arrested

Phagwara, April 23
In a major success, the police arrested two members of an inter-state gang of contract killers from near village Bhakharriana under the Sadar police station here late last night.

ASP Dr Sukhchain Singh Gill today said that the arrested persons known as sharp-shooters, had been identified as Raj Kumar and Vipin Kumar, both residents of Amritsar and recovered one .38 bore revolver, one .315 bore country-made pistol, eight live cartridges and 2 kg of opium from their possession and also impounded the Santro car they were travelling in.

The ASP said Raj Kumar was operating in Delhi and other states since 1990 and had committed 25 dacoities and murdered more than 6 persons by taking suparis with the help of his other gang members.

The ASP informed that Raj Kumar, who was released from jail in 2005, took a supari of Rs 10 lakh to kill a Mahant of Rohtak (Haryana).

Dr Gill said the contract killers wanted by the Delhi, Ghaziabad and Amritsar police, mostly operated in the Ashok Vihar and Pashchim Vihar areas of Delhi. — UNI


A school with a difference
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 23
A unique school is running inside the high security Central Jail here, where Pakistani, Bangladeshi and other foreign nationals are lodged. Lifers and undertrials, including women and children, are receiving “formal education” from primary to postgraduate level.

“Teachers”, who have been convicted or facing trial, have been designated as “principal” or “vice-principal”.

Educational activities are looked after with the help of government resources as well as NGOs. Computer training centres would be set up by Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, for imparting education to the prisoners shortly. Library with the support of NGOs has also been created.

The most important aspect of the education system in the jail is that educated prisoners voluntarily teach less educated prisoners.

A visit to the jail created an impression of a big school where young and old were receiving education in various classes.

For disciplining mind, yoga and meditation classes have also been started in a big way with the help of various voluntary organisations.

Spelling out the literacy mission inside the jail, the SSP (Jail), Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, said it aimed at the eradication of illiteracy by imparting them literacy functional knowledge and skills and also creating awareness among learners about the socio-economic reality. However, the programme has been tailored to the needs and unique capabilities of the learner.

The room of Dr Ranjit Singh Uppal, “principal”, Literacy Mission, who has been undergoing imprisonment in connection with the dowry case, had passed his M.Sc (Hons) horticulture from Khalsa College, Amritsar, with 78 per cent. He worked as a part-time lecturer in Paramedical Institutes from 1998 to 2003. He was also Director-cum-Principal of PTU Paramedical College, Amritsar, and editor of a quarterly Punjab magazine.

The “vice-principal” is Mr Gurinder Singh Randhawa, who was arrested in connection with a dowry case, is MA in Hindi and history and had vast experience of teaching.

Another teacher, also a convict, has been designated as head of the computer department. He had a stint as lecturer in the Department of Architecture, Guru Nanak Dev University.

Mr Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, SSP (Jails), said from the social point of view it was moral responsibility of the jail authorities to enable them to catch up with the rest of society. Therefore, it was endeavour of the authorities to make them eligible to command respect in society after release from the jail.


Punjab starts collecting data on Muslim students
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
Acting on the advice of the Union Government, the Punjab Government has started a census of Muslim students in the state.

Confidential letters have been despatched by the Punjab Government last week seeking the exact number of Muslim students in each schools with their class and gender details. The respective principals have been made responsible for collecting and sending the data immediately.

The data has been sought by a high-level committee for the preparation of a report on social, economic and educational status of the Muslims .

Sources in the Punjab Government confirmed that the data was also being collected on colleges students besides those studying in technical institutes, medical colleges and engineering colleges. This is aimed at providing a clear picture of the community and its representation in various fields in Punjab.

A similar data is also to be collected about employees of the government and its boards and corporations besides industrial participation and entrepreneurs, among others streams.

It may be mentioned that collection of data on similar lines from the Army had led to major controversy. The Army Chief Gen J.J. Singh flatly refused saying it could disturb the secular fabric of the Army.


NGO helps needy students
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 23
The Helping Hands Society held its annual distribution function at the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET) here today .

Books, uniforms, stationery and school fees were given to 70 needy students at the function.

Mr V.K. Bhawra, Inspector-General of Police, Commandos, Punjab, was the chief guest.

Mr R.K. Sehgal, Director, University College of Engineering, Punjabi University, and Mrs Pritpal Kaur Sidhu, DEO (Secondary), were the guests of Honour.

Mr Vijay Gupta, president of the society, explained the activities of the society to the guests.

He said the society would shortly be providing food and other materials to needy persons, particularly those who were not able to support their family because of genuine reasons like illness or loss of earning hand.

He added that the society had started a computer-training centre as promised by it last year, where training was given to the poor and needy students.


Dental students present cultural show
Tribune News Service

Barwala, April 23
In a cultural programme was presented by students of different constituent colleges of Swami Devi Dyal, Hospital and Dental College, Golpura village, to mark the valedictory function of CHINMAY-2006, on the college premises, near here today.

The Haryana Governor, Dr AR Kidwai, presided over the function and inaugurated a boys hostel in the college complex. Dr Kidwai also distributed prizes among the meritorious students for their outstanding performance in various courses.

Dr YC Chopra, convener of the festival, welcomed the Governor and other dignitaries who attended the function. Mr Roshan Lal Jindal, chairman of all institutes, thanked the students, faculty members and other college employees for making the function a success.


Remove VAT, demand rice millers
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 23
Mr Tarsem Saini, national president of the Rice Millers’ Association, was honoured by the Rice Millers’ Association, Bassi Pathana, at an impressive function yesterday.

The association asked him to ensure removal of VAT on rice bran and paddy husk.

Mr Nakesh Jindal, press secretary, Punjab Rice Millers’ Association, Mr Inderjit Singh Sandhu, president, District Rice Millers’ Association, welcomed Mr Saini and other office-bearers and congratulated him on his elevation to the post of the national president.

They urged him to take up the remaining demands of the state millers with state and Union Government.

Mr Saini highlighted his achievements as president and said he got the main problem and demand regarding Bardana solved, which used to cause them loss of lakhs of rupees.

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