P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Mann, 5 others accept ‘tankhah’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 18
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), today accepted a “symbolic tankhah” from the Sikh clergy for the clash on July 2 at Gurdwara Manji Sahib (Golden Temple).

But he urged the Sikh clergy to summon Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Avtar Singh, SGPC chief, and Baba Nihal Singh Harianwelan, Nihang chief, to Akal Takht, holding them “equally responsible” for the unsavoury incident.

Elaborate security arrangements were made with the deployment of the SGPC’s task force and all entry and exit gates of the Akal Takht secretariat were sealed with a view to prevent any untoward incident.

Apart from Mr Mann and his five party office-bearers, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, both SGPC members, Mr Kanwarpal Singh, leader of the Dal Khalsa, Mr Daljit Singh Bittu and Prof Jagmohan Singh Tony, were allowed to enter the Akal Takht secretariat.

Mr Mann and the five office-bearers of his party told the Sikh high priests that they were accepting their verdict as humble Sikhs since they were totally dedicated to Akal Takht.

Earlier, the unilateral directive of the Sikh high priests calling the Sikh Sangat not to allow them to speak from any Panthic stage had evoked strong reactions from the Sikh circles.

A section of Sikhs in foreign countries, including the UK, had announced “social boycott” of Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti during his proposed visits to those countries.

Meanwhile, Mr Mann has convened a meeting of all Panthic organisations, excluding SAD, on July 21 in Amritsar to finalise the modalities of launching another “gurdwara sudhar lehar” (gurdwara reform movement).

The agenda of the meeting would be to “liberate” Sikh institutions from the control of the Badal faction.

The directive to withdraw the “religious boycott” against Mr Mann and his party leaders was issued on the letterhead of Akal Takht on expected lines.

The Political Affairs Committee (PAC) meeting of the SAD had already decided in principle to take steps to avoid any confrontation with other Sikh organisations, keeping in view the forthcoming Assembly general elections. The today’s directive would pave way for easing out tension that was expected on July 21.

However, the Sikh high priests refused to allow Mr Mann or any other Sikh leader to address the Sikh Sangat on “Paschatap Divas,” proposed to be held here on July 21.

It was decided that the Jathedar, Akal Takht, would be the only one who would deliver his message on that day. The meeting lasted for more than one and a half hour, which directed Mr Mann, Bhai Ram Singh, Mr Baldev Singh Sirsa, Mr Harcharn Singh Burj, member, SGPC, Mr Varinder Singh Mann and Mr Gurjatinder Singh Bhikhiwind to offer “kadah parsad” of Rs 100 each at Akal Takht and the Golden Temple.

They were also directed to organise an “Akhand Path” at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib as part of “paschatap” for the denigration of Guru Granth Sahib on July 2.


SGPC chief warns Sarna
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 18
The president of the Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Mr Avtar Singh, has said that the Jathedar of Akal Takht should take action against those raising questions on the directives pronounced by the latter from time to time.

Speaking to mediapersons today, the SGPC chief ridiculed the statement of Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, a former president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, about the directive issued by the jathedars of five Takhts regarding the unsavoury incident of July 2.

He said by doing so, Mr Sarna had shown utter disregard to their verdict. He warned him to desist from such anti-Panthic activities and to behave like a devout Sikh.

Commenting on the decision of Mr Sarna to appoint observers to oversee “Paschatap Diva”, the SGPC chief said this was a violation of the Sikh code.

The SGPC president said Mr Sarna must know that Akal Takht was the supreme temporal institution of the Sikhs, who got inspiration from this pious institution.

On the issue of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann using the SGPC platform, Mr Avtar Singh said everyone had the right to speak from its platform on religious issues, but it would not be allowed to be used as a political platform.


6 more departments to be handed over to panchayats
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 18
The Punjab Government has decided to hand over six more departments to panchayats shortly. Stating this here today, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the panchayats had already been managing the affairs of six departments of the government and with the handing over of the administration of six more departments, it was certain that decentralisation of power at the grassroots would strengthen.

Accusing the former SAD-BJP government of denying rights to the panchayats, he said empowerment of the panchayats was must to enable them to develop villages.

Expressing concern over drug addiction, he said he had taken up the matter with the Prime Minister to form a national drug policy so that the flow of intoxicants from one state to the other state could be curbed effectively.

The other social evil which was posing a serious threat to society was the falling sex ratio because of rampant foeticide. He said the government had put a number of medical practitioners behind bars and some positive result had started coming for the past one year.

Talking to mediapersons, he said the government would make fool- proof security arrangements outside Harmandar Sahib to prevent any ugly incident on July 21 when various Akali factions would be holding a function in connection with Akal Takht Sahib.

To a question he said there was no one in the state who was trying to raise the “khalistan” issue again. However, certain terrorists had been “forced on Punjab” after they were extradited from the US and such elements would not be allowed to create law and order problems.

Regarding the 19 missing Punjabis in Iraq, he said the state government had been pressuring the Centre to do the needful to ensure their return.

He said the government had been facing problems on account of the release of 27 Pakistanis as the Pakistan government was not accepting them and the high court had directed that they should be handed over to Pakistan as soon as possible.

Asked whether a defence university would come up in Patiala, he said a decision for setting up the university in Patiala had been taken at the top level. He added that in all likelihood, the university would be set up in the building of the National Institute of Sports and all activities of the NIS would be shifted to Anandpur Sahib.

Earlier addressing women representatives of the panchayats and panchayat samitis, he said they should be more confident to participate in the development of their respective areas and society. 


Activity map of panchayats’ empowerment on Oct 2: Aiyer
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 18
Union Panchayati Raj and Development Minister Mani Shanker Aiyer today said the activity map of empowerment of panchayats by the Punjab Government according to the 73rd Amendment of the Constitution would be released on October 2 jointly by him and the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Union Panchayati Raj and Development Minister Mani Shanker Aiyer with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh at a seminar
Union Panchayati Raj and Development Minister Mani Shanker Aiyer with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh at a seminar on “Panchayat Mahila Shakti Abhiyan” at Bahadurgarh in Patiala on Tuesday. — Tribune photo by Rajesh Sachar

Mr Aiyer, who attended a two-day seminar on “Panchayat Mahila Shakti Abhiyan,” while addressing the function at a resort located near Bahadurgarh town, said the activity map would be connected to the fact that whether devolution of power to panchayats had been done and, if done, then the manner in which the same was done.

Not only this, the activity map would also be connected to how the development works were being executed with the involvement of panchayats.

The Union minister, while expressing his satisfaction over the participation of elected women representatives in the seminar and draft of charter of demands prepared by them, disclosed that the Centre Government would give Rs 10 crore in the coming two years to the Punjab Government for making arrangements of training the elected women representatives in different aspects of administration, their rights and duties.

He said if the panchayat would be strong, the development of the village would also be effective. He added that by following this policy, all concerned should come forward to make the panchayats strong and initiate a health competition among them to improve the quality of administration.

He urged the elected women representatives that they should form an association by bringing the former women elected representatives into their fold. When they would make this kind of association, no political establishment would be able to deny them their rights.

After making the Panchayat Mahila Shakti Abhiyan a success, another programme under the banner of Panchayat Yuva Shakti Abhiyan would be launched in Punjab from October 2 to mark the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Punjab Rural Development Minister Lal Singh and Ms Preneet Kaur, MP, were present.


Rocket-type objects found at cantt gate
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 18
Panic gripped cantonment residents here yesterday when the news regarding the detection of bombs from the heart of cantonment spread. However, the Army authorities later rebutted the rumours and claimed that the traced objects were not explosive material but some discarded scrap which might have been disposed by junk dealers near the entrance gate of the Cantonment Board Office on apprehension that it could be dangerous to handle.

Satish Arora, Junior Engineer, Cantonment Board, saw two rocket type objects lying near an entrance gate of the board office on Jhoke Road at around 8:30 am . He immediately raised an alarm and informed the CEO, Cantonment Board, Mr Shekhar Babu, who called on the police and the Army authorities. The Bomb Disposal Squad of the police along with sniffer dogs, reached the site.

Meanwhile, the Army authorities also reached the site and the area was cordoned off by a quick reaction team (QRT) which placed sand bags around those rocket look-alike objects.

The authorities claimed that it was old scrap and had never been used by the Army. The Army authorities also revealed that as no markings are visible on the objects, it was quite difficult to identify their type, make and the year of the manufacture. The Army authorities also said that the objects which were painted with blue and white stripes, did not contain any explosive material and were inert in nature. However, the Army authorities removed the two objects from the site and later, destroyed them at an isolated place.


1984 violence: grants given to 9,074 families

Chandigarh, July 18
The Punjab Government today said it had given rehabilitation grants of Rs 2 lakh each to 9,074 families of victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh violence. About 2,671 cases were pending for disbursement.

The grants were being provided under the rehabilitation package announced by the Government of India.

Mr R.C. Nayyar, Secretary, Revenue and Rehabilitation, said a total of 15,254 such claims were received from the Deputy Commissioners throughout the state. Out of these 11,745 claims were settled.

Mr Nayyar also said the state government had provided 269 jobs and 2,471 houses or flats to the victims in the state. — TNS


34 Pakistanis complete sentences, but Pak reluctant to accept them
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
There are 82 Pakistanis lodged in various jails of Punjab. As many as 34 of them have completed their sentences but continue to be in prison.

Sources said 27 of the 34 had already been provided with consulate access. For instance, Altaf Ahmad had completed his sentence in August ,2003. Officials of the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi had met him a few days later to record his antecedents. However, there was no response from the Pakistan authorities for his release. Similar is the case of 26 others. Until they are accepted by the Pakistan authorities, they will not be released, it is learnt.

Most of them were sentenced for spying or other offences. "Reluctance on the part of the Pakistan Government to accept their own people has become a hindrance in their release", said a senior officer.

The sources said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had written to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to direct the officials concerned to take up the issue of the release of the prisoners with the Pakistan Government authorities. 


Badal dubs schemes ‘corruption projects’
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, July 18
Talking about the new mega projects launched by the Punjab Government, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, dubbed them “corruption projects”.

He was addressing a press conference at the house of Mr Surjit Kumar Jyani, former MLA, at Kathera village today.

He alleged that these projects existed only on paper whereas it was actually real estate business where valuable land worth several billions was offered for crores for the benefit of some big industrial houses.

The common man and the farmer was not likely to benefit in any manner, he observed. He said if the SAD would come to power, these projects would be reviewed and people-friendly projects would be launched.

He said a committee led by former Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa had been formed to prepare the election manifesto of the party. The manifesto shall look after the interest of all sections of society. Economists would be consulted before its implementation.

In reply to a question on waiving loans of farmers, he said attempts were made to review sick industrial units and similar efforts would be made to encourage agriculture if his party came to power.

He criticised the statement of Mr Janardhan Divedy who said Punjab farmers were prosperous and did not need any economical package.

In reply to a query on the Mumbai blasts, Mr Badal described these as unfortunate and attributed these to the failure of government intelligence agencies. He said repeal of POTA was not essential but strong political will and stringent measures to curb subversive activities was necessary.


Cong leaders to meet today

Chandigarh, July 18
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, has called a meeting of Ministers, party vice-presidents and general secretaries and presidents of the district units at Punjab Congress Bhavan tomorrow to discuss the arrangements for the mass-contact programme in the state.

Stating this, Mr Parminder Singh, general secretary of the PPCC, said the meeting would be presided over by Mr Dullo and addressed by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. He said the party would launch the programme on July 24. — TNS


Abandoned baby sent to ashram
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 18
The newborn baby boy, who was found abandoned on the bank of a pond near the rail track and the Police Lines here yesterday, was today handed over to a Ludhiana-based ashram by the district administration.

After the handing over of the abandoned boy to the ashram, the woman, Chhindo, wife of Kali Singh, who looked after the boy since yesterday, went into a state of shock for some time and she had to be admitted to the Civil Hospital for treatment. As per information, the woman claimed that the newborn boy should be handed over to her.

When contacted, Mr Gurtej Singh, SDM, Sangrur, told The Tribune this evening that the police had brought the boy to his office this morning. He wrote to the Deputy Commissioner to hand over the boy to any notified ashram as per the instructions of the government relating to the abandoned children. He further said the Deputy Commissioner ordered the handing over of the boy to a Ludhiana ashram.

The SDM said if anybody wanted to adopt the boy, he could approach the ashram for adoption in a legal manner.

The police had registered a case under Section 317 of the IPC against the unknown persons yesterday.


State fails to issue notification to cut petrol, diesel prices
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
The diesel and petrol prices are yet to be lowered in Punjab. The owners of fuel pumps said yesterday that the required notification had not been issued by the Excise and Taxation Department so far.

On June 5 the Union Government had raised the price of petrol by Rs 4 per litre and of diesel by Rs 2 per litre. However, the Congress high command had directed the states ruled by the party to exempt the increased price of petrol and diesel from value added tax (VAT). Immediately after the directive from the party high command, the Punjab Government issued a statement that it would implement it to lower the price of petrol by roughly 93 paise per litre and of diesel by 21 paise.

Later in the last week of June, the Council of Ministers had also cleared the proposal to exempt the increased price of petrol and diesel. It is not clear why the authorities have taken so long to issue the notification.

When contacted on the phone, Mr J.P. Khanna, president of the Punjab Petroleum Dealers Association, told The Tribune that the prices could not be lowered by dealers until the necessary notification was issued.

He said petrol was selling at a price varying between Rs 52 and Rs 52.50 per litre and diesel between Rs 32 and Rs 32.50 per litre in the state. The prices of petrol and diesel varied from city to city because of the difference in freight charges.

Mr Khanna said by the time the prices would be lowered by the Punjab Government, another hike might be announced at the Union Government level. 


Man alleges police inaction
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 18
The police has not only failed to arrest two women for inciting the murder of a youth but is shielding them by giving them shelter under political pressure.

This was stated by Mr Amrik Singh, grandfather of 18-year- old Gurinder Pal Singh who was murdered at Baghiari village in Jhabbal subdivision on June 29.

He said ,Sarabjit Kaur and Amanpreet Kaur, the mother and wife of Amritpal Singh, respectively, were responsible for the murder, as the two had provided rifle to the accused at the time of the incident.

Amrik Singh said Prabhjot Singh, ASI, Punjab police and the brother- in- law of the accused Amritpal Singh, was helping the two women by providing them shelter.

Gurinder was killed when his parents and neighbour Sada Singh along with his family had altercation over the issue of water tank constructed on the common wall of their houses.

The police had registered a case against the accused under Sections 302, 148, 149 of the IPC and under Sections 25, 27, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act. When contacted Mr Praveen Sinha, SSP, said the accused women were at large and the police was investigating the case.


Govt doctor nabbed doing private practice
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 18
Dr Rakesh Gupta, Civil Surgeon, during a surprise raid at Sandhu Hospital here today caught red-handed a doctor of the Civil Hospital, Fatehgarh Sahib, doing unauthorised practice at the hospital. Dr Gupta has recommended to the government a strong disciplinary action against the doctor.

In a press note issued here today, the Civil Surgeon said that on secret information, he along with other Health Department staff raided Sandhu Nursing Home, where Dr Gurjit Singh, who is working as an anaesthetist in the Civil Hospital, Fatehgarh Sahib, was found to be administering anaesthesia to a patient at the nursing home. He said earlier also, the doctor had been found doing private work in a private hospital and a police case was registered at the Khamano police station against him.

Dr Gupta said people had started coming forward to provide information about the working of government doctors as well as private nursing homes, which had been indulging in sex-determination tests and female foeticide. He warned that no one would be spared if found indulging in any kind of malpractice or unethical practice.


SAD-led panchayats get relief
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 18
The gram panchayats headed by supporters of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) have got relief from the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case of alleged discrimination by the district authorities against them.

The gram panchayat of Ghuriana village in the Balluana Assembly constituency had filed CWP 10372 in the High Court alleging that the State of Punjab had sanctioned grants for development works in villages of the area but instead of sending the amount to the gram panchayats, the Executive Officer of the Panchayat Samiti, Abohar, was appointed as Executing Officer to spend the grants, contrary to the provisions of the Punjab Panchayati Raj Act, 1994.

The petitioners had listed the Secretary, Department of Rural Development and Panchayat, Punjab, Additional Deputy Commissioner Ferozepore, District Development and Panchayat Officer, Block Development and Panchayat Officer, Abohar, and Mr Parkash Singh Bhatti, Congress MLA from Balluana constituency, as respondents in the case.

The double Bench, comprising Mr Justice Jasbir Singh and Mr Justice Pritam Lal, while disposing of the petition, directed the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), Ferozepore, to look into the grievances of the petitioners and release the amount of the grant in favour of the gram panchayats, if there is no legal impediment in doing the same.

“The order be passed after giving an opportunity of hearing to one of the petitioners and keeping in view the provisions of Sections 30, 86 and 89 of the Act. Needful be done within 10 days from the date of receipt of a copy of the order. Till then the amount of grant be not spent by the Executive Officer,” the HC directed.

The SAD had last month alleged that 22 gram panchayats had been deprived of the right to spend the amount of grant for development and the Executive Officer had been empowered by the ADC (D) in violation of the rules to utilise the grant.

This, the party said, was done at the behest of Mr Parkash Singh Bhatti, Congress MLA, to demoralise the SAD supporters in view of the coming Assembly elections.

Today some SAD activists went to the office of the BDPO, Abohar, to deliver the copy of the orders passed by the High Court.


Surplus octroi staff to be under E&T Dept
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
Employees who will become surplus because of the abolition of octroi from September 1 in Punjab will be accommodated in the Excise and Taxation (E & T) Department.

Official sources said the government had made arrangements to implement the decision on the abolition of octroi in all municipal bodies in the state. A dedicated municipal fund would be created to maintain a constant flow of funds to the municipal committees. A law would be framed to assign funds to the municipal bodies from the revenue collected through VAT. A meeting in this regard was held yesterday under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal.


4 DIGs recommended for promotion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
A Departmental Promotion Committee headed by the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, yesterday recommended the promotion of four DIGs to the rank of IG and of 11 SSP-rank officials for the grant of the selection grade.

The 1988 batch IPS officers — Mr R.C. Singh, Mr Prabodh Kumar, Mr Rohit Chaudhary and Mr Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota—were considered for promotion. Mr R.C. Singh is on deputation with the UN forces and will get a proforma promotion while the others are at present serving in Punjab.

Once the recommendation is approved, the Punjab cadre will have 26 IG-level officers. All Punjab-cadre officers between the 1981 and 1988 batches of the IPS will be IGs.

The 1993 batch officials of the Punjab cadre recommended for the selection grade are: Mrs Gurpreet Kaur Deo, Mr Varinder Kumar, Mr Ishwar Singh, Mr J.K. Jain, Mr S.K. Asthana, Mrs Shashi Prabha Dwivedi, Mr R.N. Dhoke, Mr Kartar Singh, Mr Mann Singh, Mr P.S. Grewal and Mr Arpit Shukla.


3 women, two others assaulted
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 18
Five persons, including three women, were injured as several persons attacked them with swords and iron rods after forcibly entering their house at Kishanpur Kalan village falling under the Dharamkot police station yesterday.

According to the police, several armed persons entered Navjot Singh’s house and attacked him, his brother and three women of their families who were present there at that time.

They reportedly attacked them to “teach them a lesson” as one of Navjot’s brothers had allegedly kidnapped a girl of the assailants family some time back, the police added.

The assailants took Navjot with them after injuring his other four family members. They took him to a house in the village and thrashed him mercilessly after tying his hands. Later, the police reached there and rescued him.

While two injured have been sent to a Jagraon hospital, three were admitted to Dharamkot hospital. An FIR have been lodged against the assailants, Chamkaur Singh, Balbir Singh, Kulwinder Singh, Jaspal Singh, Devi, Maghar Singh, Ajit Singh and some others of Kishanpur Kalan village on Navjot’s statement.


Fake currency worth Rs 2.46 lakh seized
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 18
The police today claimed to have busted a fake currency racket with the arrest of three persons and seizure of fake currency worth Rs 2.46 lakh from their possession.

Addressing a press conference here, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Varinder Kumar, said following a tip-off a police party, led by Kotwali SHO Gurjit Singh Romana, set up a checkpost on the Lambi-Bathinda road, which led to the arrest of the accused and seizure of fake currency from their car.

The accused were identified as Surjeet Singh, alias Dimple, Balraj Singh and Shiv Kumar. They were nabbed when they were on the way to Bathinda, reportedly to circulate the fake currency. A laptop, a printer and a scanner were also seized from them.

A case has been registered. During interrogation, the accused admitted to have made fake currency worth Rs 6 lakh. 


Principal’s office gheraoed
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 18
Nearly 100 admission seekers, activists of the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) and the All-India Students Federation (AISF), led by Mr Sukhwinder Singh, state secretary of the PRSU, and Mr Navjit Singh, state secretary of the AISF, today gheraoed the office of the Principal of Government Ranbir College for an hour here. They also raised slogans in support of their demand that all plus two pass students should be admitted in B.A. (Part-I) today without considering the number of seats, available for B.A. (Part-I) students, in the college. The Principal was not in the office when the students gheraoed her office.

Prof Charanjit Singh Channi, vice-principal of the college, told the protesters the administration had increased 50 seats for admission to B.A. I and the same would be filled on July 20 as the college authorities issued a notice in this regard today , so that all admission seekers could get the benefit of the increased seats. He said the college authorities could not fill all 50 increased seats today, as all admission seekers had not information about the increased seats. Those who would come for admission on July 20 would be given admission to B.A. I per merit, he added.

However, the admission seekers were adamant and wanted that all 50 seats be filled today as they were coming to the college for admission for the past seven days. 


MBA counselling postponed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 18
Dr S.K. Bansal, Professor and Head, Punjab School of Management Studies, Punjabi University, today informed that the counseling date for admission to MBA under NRI, NRI-sponsored and Industry-sponsored categories which were scheduled to be held on July 20 at the Punjabi University campus has now been postponed to July 31.

This postponement has been made keeping in view the extended counseling schedule for MET-2006.

A delegation of candidates had also met Dr Bansal in this regard and had requested him for a postponement.


MA (Eng) result
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
The Panjab University here has declared the result of M.A. (English) Part-II, April 2006 held in April/May 2006 and would be available on the University website www.puchd.ac.in after 5 pm on July 19. 


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