P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


US delegation visits shrines
Tribune News Service

Khadoor Sahib, June 10
A 10-member delegation led by Mr Paul Michael Taylor, Director, Asian Cultural History Program Curator, Washington (USA) arrived here yesterday to visit various Sikh religious shrines of the Amritsar district.

The delegation, which is part of the 15-member delegation, is in India to take part in the various seminars to be held from June 11 to 14 at Anandpur Sahib, Chandigarh and Kila Mubarak (Patiala). Seminars would be held in coordination with Anandpur Sahib Foundation, INTACH and Archeological Survey of India.

Mr Taylor who is also responsible for the maintenance of one of the world’s biggest museum Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, having 22 buildings, while talking to The Tribune said that he would present his paper on scientific research at these seminars. He said India had made significant advancement in application of technology for preserving its cultural heritage.

He said it would be easier for him to interact with the scientists here as they have adapted themselves to the latest techniques of heritage preservation. He also lauded the role of Baba Sewa Singh, Kar Sewawale, for establishing a museum for preserving Sikh heritage near Darbar Sahib.

Ms Hanna Szczepanowska, Conservator of Art, said that lots of papers of historical importance were facing danger of being destroyed due to the microbiological degradation and there was need to apply latest scientific techniques to preserves these. She said that she would also study the Sikh legacy and cultural heritage of Punjab. She said that she was impressed by the socio cultural and religious diversity of Punjab and the kinds of heritage material available is very large.


ASI booked for brawl with lawyer
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 10
A scuffle broke out between an Assistant Sub-Inspector and an advocate when the latter was challaned for jumping the red light near the bus stand here today.

Sources said Varinder Singh allegedly jumped the red light close to the Power House road at about 10 am on his car, following which ASI Jaswant Singh challaned him.

Though the reason that led to fracas still remains unclear, both were trading charges against each other. While the ASI alleged that when he handed over the challan to the advocate, he “abused him and took off his turban”, Varinder Singh said that the ASI “slapped him and later the traffic cops beat him up after taking him out of his car”.

The sources said the ASI took the advocate to the nearest traffic post. Soon after the advocate’s father, Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, also reached the traffic post and an altercation between the two parties broke out again. They came to blows and this time Mr Dhillon’s turban fell off.

Dhillon alleged that when he arrived at the post, the traffic policemen were thrashing his son. “The ASI also manhandled me and my turban fell on the ground,” he further charged. He denied that he took out any pistol in the traffic post. He said his son had suffered injuries in the “police assault”.

He also denied that his son had jumped red light and said his car’s front tyres had merely crossed the line on the traffic signal.

The police registered a case against the ASI under Sections 356, 323 and 342 of the IPC.

The sources said he was booked under political pressure. Earlier, the lawyers held a meeting at the District Courts and sought justice in the matter.


New cataract-causing genes identified
Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 10
In a major breakthrough, the team led by Dr Jai Rup Singh, Coordinator, Centre for Genetic Disorders, Guru Nanak Dev University in association with Dr Daljit Singh, a renowned ophthalmologist, supported by scientists from the National Institute of Health, USA, Institute of Human Genetics, Berlin, Germany, has identified three new cataract-causing genes in Indian families after 15 years of research .

The three genes identified by the scientists are ‘Fan Shaped Cataract’, ‘Cerulean Cataract’ and ‘Sutural Cataract’. These would ultimately help in prevention and cure for not only congenital cataract but also senile cataract.

Dr Jai Rup Singh said that this research had been carried out on congenital cataract for the past 30 years. He said the Centre for Genetic Disorders of the University had collected DNA samples from more than 2400 cases suffering from genetic diseases of the eye and had maintained one of the largest DNA database in the world for congenital cataract. He said the DNA analysis on these cases was initiated in 1990 when the Centre was established. At present the DNA analysis on more than 700 families of congenital cataract is still in progress.

Dr Singh said congenital cataract affects about 3 per 10000 newborns and is one of the significant causes of blindness in children and also life-long visual disability. He said present discoveries are the result of long painstaking efforts undertaken by the scientists at the Centre for Genetic Disorders in which the individual members of these families had been pursued for periods ranging from 3-5 years. He said the discoveries have been reported almost simultaneously in the recent issues of the reputed international journals. The first breakthrough was reached in 2001 when two new genes were identified. Now three new genes have been localized in the Indian families.

Prof Jai Rup Singh disclosed that the identification of the defect at the DNA level would ultimately facilitate in the identification of the exact causative agent for congenital cataract.

He said the novel type of cataract has been named as “Fan-shaped” cataract. The responsible gene is localized on the long arm of 21st chromosome and a single base pair change in it causes the congenital cataract that is exclusively associated with microcornea.

This family first came to notice when an affected child was seen at Dr Daljit Singh Eye Hospital. The subsequent follow-up of this family revealed the presence of similar defect in individuals spreading over four generations. The blood samples from 19 individuals from this family were analysed at DNA level with more than 400 microsatellite markers to trace the exact location of the disease causing gene. After narrowing down the region on the 21st chromosome, further sophisticated molecular analyses were undertaken to trace the exact defect in the gene itself and its consequences on the eye.

The coordinator said defect in this gene, i.e., the causative mutation has also been traced. It is being caused by a single nucleotide alteration in which a base Cytosine (C) of the 116th codon has been replaced by another base Thymine (T). This small sub-molecular replacement results in the replacement of an amino acid called Arginine by Cysteine which consequently modifies the structure of the alpha-crystallin that is synthesized by this gene and which is an essential lens protein. This alteration ultimately leads to the causation of this typical “fan-shaped” type of cataract and microcornea.

Dr Jai Rup Singh said the other two discoveries, also pertain to, hitherto not reported, two new loci for two types of congenital cataract. The second report is about the mapping for the first time a gene for congenital cataract, known as, “cerulean cataract” on 16th chromosome. The detailed molecular studies in the family led to the identification of a new type of mutation that had also not been identified earlier in the responsible gene, localized on this chromosome. This mutation was found in a large family of three generations in which 12 individuals were affected and the analysis took almost four years to complete, he added.

Talking about another research in this field, Dr Jai Rup Singh said the third report is regarding the discovery of the first ever localization of the gene for “sutural cataract” on chromosome number 19. It is also the first report of identification of hereditary hyperferritinemia-cataract syndrome in a family of Indian origin. He said this breakthrough reported in the February 2006 issue of international journal “Molecular Vision”, was achieved through the sophisticated molecular analysis undertaken on 27 individuals belonging to a 4 generation family and also took over 3 years to complete.


Abuse of synthetic drugs common, says study
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 10
The use of alcohol and other drugs has become part of Punjabi culture. No wedding or a happy occasion is complete until liquor is served. However, in the past two decades, the pattern of drug use in the state has undergone a change in favour of synthetic drugs. These facts are part of a study on the menace of drug abuse and foeticide compiled by Guru Nanak Dev University and released by the Governor of Punjab, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), here today .

The Governor said the problems of drug abuse and foeticide had reached alarming proportions in the state.

He had asked the Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University to constitute two groups to study the problem of drug addiction and foeticide. He appreciated the work done by Dr Sandhu and Dr Arora.

One-fifth of the respondents take synthetic drugs which include bruffin, proxyvon, diazapam, combifliam, compose and cough syrups and injections of morphine and norphine. As much as 68 per cent of respondents in Amritsar (rural) are taking synthetic drugs.

“Bhuki” (poppy husk) is more popular among the illiterate while alcohol and smack are more popular among graduates.

The state’s own excise policy is liberal through which it is getting more than Rs 1,600 crore per year. There were 5,600 liquor vends in the state in 2005-06 and in the financial year 2006-07, the government has opened more than 8,000 vends.

The report says that the nexus between the police, criminals and politicians is an open secret.

On foeticide, 48 per cent respondents of Bathinda (urban area) and 40 per cent of Fatehgarh Sahib respondents cited post-marital problems faced by women as the reason for not wanting a female.

General Rodrigues called for a crusade against drug abuse and foeticide through an institutionalised mechanism, fully supported by legal, social, administrative and medical remedies.


Rumour as news on the city foursome
Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 10
The case of four girls of Chandigarh, who had become a subject of immense speculation for the media, especially electronic channels and the police, after they had fired in the air thrice in the Sarabha Nagar market area in Ludhiana on the night of May 27, is a classic example of how the media overkill can play with young lives.

What’s worse, conclusions are reached without waiting for the entire story to develop.

While the police officials leaked the details, most of it assumed, the media went overboard with dramatised versions of the event without even knowing till date what had prompted the girls to fire in the air.

The motive of the firing could be known only after the girls are caught and their version obtained. But no one waited for it.

Who knows, the girls could have fired in the air to defend themselves? Incidentally, they didn’t hurt anyone. But neither the police nor the media waited for the events to unfold before portraying them as one of the most wanted criminals of the state.

The girls are actually in hiding. They are yet to reveal their side of the story. But in their bail applications moved in a city court yesterday, the girls have hinted that they had fired to save themselves from the son of an influential person, who along with his friends had been chasing them.

The girls mentioned that they were students of Panjab University, Chandigarh.

Yet, the police and the media have been claiming that the girls were involved in such incidents in the past. It is a different matter that no one has been able to furnish any proof to substantiate the claims.

The media and the police have even circulated and printed pictures of the girls without verifying from anyone whether the photos were actually of the four girls who were involved in the shooting.

It has just been assumed that the four girls seen together in the frames were the ones who were travelling together and had fired in the air.


Village gets cash award for improving sex ratio
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, June 10
A seminar on foeticide and the PNDT Act was organised by the district administration and an NGO, UPKAR, at Shivalik Public School here yesterday. Mr Darabara Singh Guru, Health Secretary, was the chief guest and Dr Harinder Rana, Director, Health and Family Welfare, presided over the seminar. Women panches, sarpanches, councillors, teachers, girl students, and anganwari workers, among others, participated.

Narrating the story of the birth of Sukhmeen Kaur, her father, Dr Jaswant Singh Dhand, said Sukhmeen was their third child and he and his wife were planning to get rid of her because they already had a son and a daughter. It was easy to get a sex determination test in 1991-92.

They changed their mind after reading an article in a Punjabi daily. Jullah Mazra village in the district had become the first village in the state to get the award money of Rs 3 lakh for having 1,102 baby girls against 1,000 boys.

Mr Krishan Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, while presenting a report on the measures taken to curb foeticide, said the “Nawanshahr model” was based on three principles – enforcement, awareness and consistent monitoring .

A special software for the purpose of “ social audit” of all births had been developed and the awareness campaign against foeticide had started showing a positive trend in the district.

Dr Harinder Rana, Director, Health and Family Welfare, Dr Harcharan Singh, Civil Surgeon, Dr V.K. Goyal, state nodal officer , PNDT Act, Dr Dalip Kumar, Dr Gurminder Sidhu, Mr Jaspal Gidda, Ms Sarita, and Mr Varinder Ummat, among others, also spoke.

Artistes of the Pragati Kala Kendra, Landheran, staged plays on the occasion.


Follow Guru’s ideals, says Rodrigues
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 10
People should work together and put Punjab first in terms of social equality, economic development and harmonious living as preached and practised by the Gurus. Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), Punjab Governor, stated this at an international seminar organised by the Dharam Prachar Committee of the SGPC to mark the 400th martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev here today.

Paying tributes to Guru Arjan Dev, the Governor said he had laid down his life for preserving the values of humanism and secularism. There was need to follow his ideals, he said.

Swami Agnivesh, president of the World Council of Arya Samaj, lauded the preachings of Guru Arjan Dev and said his martyrdom was for the protection of dharma and righteousness.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD President, highlighted the teachings of Guru Arjan Dev and appealed to the people to follow the concept of public service preached by the Guru.

Among those who presented their papers were Dr Harish and Radha Sharma, Dr Kharak Singh, Dr Balwant Singh and Dr Dilbir Singh Dhillon.


Arya Samaj to remove offensive words from book
Sanjay Bumbroo

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 10
The World Council of Arya Samaj (WCAS) will remove objectionable words, if any, from the 150-year-old book “Satyarth Prakash” authored by Swami Dayanand Saraswati in its endeavour to end mistrust between Sikhs and Hindus. He said the WCAS held Guru Nanak and Sikhism in high esteem.

Swami Agnivesh, president of the WCAS, stated this while talking to The Tribune after addressing an international seminar organised by the Dharam Prachar Committee of the SGPC to mark the 400th martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev here today.

He said he would soon hold a meeting with Sikh scholars and eminent leaders and try to remove objectionable material from the book and try to resolve the issue amicably. He said it would further help in uniting Arya Samajis and Sikhs.

He said whatever Swami Dayanand had mentioned in the book had already been said by Guru Arjan Dev 400 years ago and that was why Punjabis, especially Sikhs, had joined the Arya Samaj.

Commenting on the atrocities on women, he said India was the only country in the world where brides were being burnt for dowry.


SC/ST not getting quota benefits: dharam samaj
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 10
Mr Darshan Rattan Ravan, Chief Organiser of the National Adi Dharam Samaj, alleged at a press conference here today that the benefits of reservation were only availed by members of the Ravi Dass community. The Scheduled Castes comprised 37 communities, including Balmikis, in Punjab. He said almost all members of the Balmiki community were still deprived of reservation benefits.

Giani Zail Singh during his tenure as Chief Minister of Punjab had fixed 12 per cent reservation for the Balmiki community, within the 25 per cent quota for SC/ST.

Petrol stations, gas agencies, ration depots and plots under various schemes had also been “captured” by members of the Ravi Dass community, he alleged.

He said by installing Ms Santosh Chaudhry, who was also from the Ravi Dass community, as Chairperson of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, the Congress had hurt the sentiments of the Balmikis.

The samaj had decided to oppose Congress candidates in the forthcoming elections, he said.

He demanded the dissolution of committees relating to the Balmik Tirath and introduction of Balmiki tirath act on the pattern of the Sikh Gurdwara Act.


Rural dispensaries given on contract basis
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 10
To provide better health services in the rural areas, the government has decided to give rural dispensaries on contract basis to doctors. At least, 21 rural dispensaries have been identified to be given on the contract basis.

After adopting the due procedure, 21 doctors were selected for handing over these dispensaries.

According to Mr D.P.S. Walia ADC(D), 13 doctors (service providers) out of the 21 selected, have signed contract with the zila parishad and have taken the charge of rural dispensaries.

He said the service providers would engage para-medical staff on their own and the government would pay them Rs 3.60 lakh per annum. The medicines would be provided by the government free of cost at these dispensaries.

The contract had been signed for three years. It has been made mandatory that the doctors would examine schoolchildren after every six months in their respective areas.


8-month-old child burnt alive
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 10
An 8-month-old child was burnt alive in a fire alleged due to short-circuit in Vijay Nagar, near Azeemgarh, on the outskirts of the town today.

According to information, Hira Lal had gone out for work and his wife Lichhma Bai was also not at home. Their 8-month-old son was sleeping alone in the house. Daughter Birma (5) was playing in the adjoining house of her aunty.

Suddenly smoke started emanating from the house. By the time people rushed in, the child had died of suffocation and was burnt also.


Panchkarma centre opens

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 10
The newly opened branch of Desh Bhagat Ayurvedic College and Hospital , Desh Bhagat Hospital and Panchkarma Centre, at Mandi Gobindgarh has started treating patients.

Dr Loveleen Kaur, Principal, said that the centre was providing various facilities like obesity clinic to and treatment of piles and fistula without operation. OC


Goods, motor cycles gutted
Tribune News Service

Fire Brigade personnel douse flames at a handloom showroom and a motor cycle agency in a market at Rajpura on Saturday.
Fire Brigade personnel douse flames at a handloom showroom and a motor cycle
agency in a market at Rajpura on Saturday. — Photo by JS Virdi

Rajpura, June 10
Handloom items and three motor cycles were destroyed in a fire at Calibre Market here this evening.

Sources said the fire first destroyed handloom products of a store.

A new Hero Honda parked outside a motor cycle agency and two other motor cycles were also destroyed in the fire.

Fire Brigade personnel had a tough time in putting out the fire.

The cause of the fire could not been ascertained immediately.


Workshop on GM crops held
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 10
An awareness workshop on GM crops with special reference to Bt cotton and its regulatory aspects was organised here yesterday. Over 125 state agriculture department officials from seven districts of Malwa cotton belt and progressive farmers of the region participated in the workshop.

Mr Gurdayal Singh, Joint Director, Punjab State Department of Agriculture, inaugurated the workshop. The focus was on developments in the area of genetically modified crops produced using modern biotechnology, their biosafety issues and regulations in place.

Bt cotton being the first approved GM crop was discussed extensively through presentations made by representatives of leading seed companies. The joint director revealed that the target area under cotton cultivation in Kharif 2006 is 6.25 lakh hectares and production 20.4 lakh bales.

During open discussion, Dr Partha Das Gupta from All India Crop Biotechnology Association and Mr Jasbir Singh Bains, Deputy Director (Cotton), clarified doubts raised by the farmers.

Scientists from Biotech Consortium India Ltd informed about the future GM crops, besides discussing the global developments on this front.


Implement crop insurance soon: morcha
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 10
To prevent the debt-ridden farmers from committing suicides, the All-India BJP Kisan Morcha today asked the Union Government to give loans for agriculture purposes to the farmers at an interest rate of 4 per cent and implement the crop insurance scheme without any delay.

Talking to mediapersons here, Vinod Pandey, national president of the BJP Kisan Morcha, asked the Centre to increase the minimum support price (MSP) of crops in the larger interests of the farmers. He said the Congress-led government only announced Rs 50 per quintal as bonus on wheat this season while the MSP of wheat should have been Rs 850 per quintal. Had Rs 850 per quintal as MSP on wheat to the farmers been given by the government, then the country would not have faced foodgrain problem, he added.

Mr Pandey said the morcha was also against the import of wheat. In place of importing wheat from abroad, the remunerative prices in the form of hiked MSP should be given to the farmers.

Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, national secretary of the BJP, criticised the entry of Reliance and other such big industrial houses into Punjab.


Kharar clash victim succumbs to injuries
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 10
One person, who was hurt in a clash here yesterday, succumbed to his injuries at the PGI, Chandigarh, today.

According to reports, Rajwinder Singh and his friend, Mr Taranjit Singh , were allegedly attacked and injured by five persons armed with sharp-edged weapons. Both of them were taken to the local Civil Hospital from where they were referred to the PGI. Rajwinder Singh, who ran a gymnasium here, succumbed to his injuries.

The police has arrested four of the five persons in connection with the case. The arrested persons are Manjit Singh, Sukhwinder Singh, Varinder Singh, and Gurvinder Singh.

The police, which registered a case under Section 307 of the IPC yesterday, converted into one under Section 302 today.


Gang of thieves busted

Sangrur, June 10
The police has busted a gang of thieves by arresting six of its members. Four computers, two TV sets, two peter engines and 500 litres of mobil oil have been seized Giving this information here on Saturday, Mr Baljit Singh, City In charge of the local police station, said the names of the arrested members of the gang were Sonu (Sangrur), Shamsher Singh (Chathe Sekhwan), Narinder Sharma, Rakesh Singh, Bahadur Singh, all from Uttar Pradesh, and Joginder Singh from Bihar. — TNS


Woman held under NDPS Act
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 10
The city police arrested Geeta Rani, wife of Satpal, a resident of Shastri Nagar here, under Sections 21, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act on Saturday and seized 10 gm smack from her.


Man held with 5 gm smack
Our Correspondent

Batala, June 10
Raj Kumar, alias Baloo of Bihar and at present residing at Shastri Nagar here, was arrested on Saturday with 5 gm of smack in his possession by SHO Baldev Singh and ASI Parkash Singh under the guidance of DSP Naresh Kumar. A case has been registered.


Pak Christians for free trade
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 10
Christians in Pakistan are well settled and enjoying all facilities being given to the minorities, Mr Ishfaq Fateh, Principal of Saint Peter High School of Toba Tek Singh (Pakistan), leading a delegation of Christian students to Punjab, said here today.

He said the minorities had double right of voting in Pakistan. They could cast their vote to elect their religious representative and at the same time, vote for electing representative of their area. Out of the total population of about 14 crore, 1.5 million were Christians. Free movement of people should be allowed by the governments of both countries to improve relations. Free trade should also be allowed.

Members of the Christian Front Punjab, led by its president Lawrance Chaudhry, the Christian Welfare Association and the Pastor Association Punjab extended welcome to the delegation.


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