P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Akal Takht invites excommunicated Sikhs to rejoin Sikh fold
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 21
In an unprecedented ‘Gurmata’ (literally Guru’s intention), passed unanimously in presence of Guru Granth Sahib, today gave choice to all excommunicated persons to rejoin the Sikh fold by January 13, 2007 without undergoing any ‘Tankhah’ (punishment) on the pre-condition that they accept the authority of Akal Takht, ‘Granth and Panth’.

Jathedar Akal Takht, Joginder Singh Vedanti, who read the ‘Gurmata’ from the rostrum of the Takht, here, said that those who had gone astray ‘intentionally or un-intentionally’ from the Sikh fold could themselves avail the special exemption given to them to mark quadricentennial century of ‘Miri Piri’ (foundation of Akal Takht) .

Later talking to The Tribune, Jathedar Vedanti said that the ‘Gurmatta’ was meant for all including Nirankaris, who were excommunicated after the Sikh-Nirankari clash on April 13, 1978. The Gurmatta was pronounced to mark the ‘Miri-Piri Divas’, which was postponed for today after clash on July 2.

The Sikh scholars feel that this was for the first time in the 400 years of the foundation of Akal Takht that any excommunicated Sikh was given an opportunity to re-join the Sikh fold without undergoing any atonement. ‘Ramraias , Minas , Dheermalias etc had been excommunicated from the Sikh Panth since the Guru’s period.

The important personalities, who were excommunicated in recently included Joginder Singh, a editor of daily Spokesman, Canada-based Mr Gurbax Singh Kalaafghana and certain foreign-based Sikhs who were punished for violating the ‘Hukmnama’ (edict) on Langar issue.

Meanwhile, Jathedar, Akal Takht has imposed a ban on any type of sloganeering, especially ‘Zindabad-Murdabad’ in any gurdwara premises of the world.

The Sikh clergy has also banned press conferences in gurdwara premises. However, Bhai Mohkam Singh, a spokesman of the Damdami Taksal said that Jathedar, Akal Takht must direct the SGPC to provide suitable place for the press conferences for rival Panthic factions since the Badal faction had already been using the Shiromani Committee’s offices.

In another significant pronouncement, Jathedar Akal Takht said that ‘both Jehangir and Dewan Chandu’ were responsible for the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev. This pronouncement from Akal Takht has come as great setback to the Shiromani Akal Dal, led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal since Ms Sushma Swaraj, a senior BJP leader had given a clean chit to Dewan Chandu from the Akali Dal’s stage. On this, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, President Delhi Akali Dal (New Delhi) has appreciated Jathedar Vedanti for his ‘bold statement’.

However, the ‘Pashtap Divas’ passed off peacefully though senior leaders of the Badal faction, including Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his party MLAs/MPs, Brig K.S.Kahlon and other factions, including Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Mr Daljit Singh Bittu, Mr Kanwarpal Singh, Mr Satnam Singh Paunta Sahib and a large number of SGPC members were present on the occasion. The Task Force of the SGPC was on high alert for any eventuality. Jathedar Akal Takht, was the only person to address the Sikh Sangat.


Panthic groups to launch gurdwara reform movement
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 21
At the first meeting of various Panthic groups opposed to Mr Parkash Singh Badal today decided to launch second gurdwara sudhar lehar (gurdwara Reform Movement), after a gap of eight decades. Earlier, the SGPC came into being in 1925 after the first gurdwara reform movement.

Representatives of various Sikh organisations decided, in principle, to ‘liberate’ the Sikh institutions from the ‘clutches’ of the SAD (Badal).

Addressing mediapersons after a meeting of different Panthic factions Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), said a united front of Panthic organisations would be committed to stop the misuse of ‘Guru ki golak’ (gurdwara funds) by Badal faction. He said the Panthic Front would not allow langar (community kitchen) to be served from the gurdwara funds at political rallies and functions.

Mr Mann said the front would hold a meeting on August 3 at Fatehgarh Sahib to finalise further course of action regarding the gurdwara reform movement. He said they would make all efforts for the implementation of the Sikh Maryada in true spirit.

Commenting on the decision of the Takht Jathedars on the incident of July 2, Mr Mann said that Panthic organisations had condemned the way the Sikh high priests had taken the unilateral decision. He said they should have given a chance to the opposite parties to present their case before giving their verdict. He said he had requested Akal Takht Jathedar to summon Mr Badal and Mr Avtar Singh, president, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, as they were equally responsible for the incident, but he had not taken any action so far.

Commenting on the labelling of various Panthic leaders as Congress agent by Mr Badal, SAD (A) chief said that he (Badal) was responsible for breaking unity of the Panthic forces. He said this is evident from the defeat of SAD candidates during byelections to various constituencies of the Vidhan Sabha in the past.

Dr Jagjit Singh Chouhan, Mr Prem Singh Lalpura, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, Mr Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib, Bhai Mohkam Singh, Mr Daljit Singh Bittu, Mr Kanwarpal Singh, Mr Narain Singh were also present at the meeting.


Farmers gherao SDM’s office
Want land acquisition notification scrapped
Sushil Goyal and Prem Sharma
Tribune News Service

Barnala, July 21
Opposing acquisition of agriculture land for big industrial houses by the Punjab Government in the state, especially in three villages, Dhaula, Fatehgarh Chhanna and Sangherra (near Barnala), hundreds of activists and members of nine farmer organisations today gheraoed the office of the SDM here for more than an hour.

They presented themselves for arrest as part of their state-level agitation — “Zamin Bachao Morcha” — but the administration did not arrest them.

A large number of protesters, including women, sporting green bands on their foreheads, participated in the protest.

Earlier, the protesters held a rally at the New Grain Market here for more than four hours and criticised the state government in a big way for forcibly acquiring land of the farmers in the name of industrial revolution in the state and jobs for the unemployed youth.

Addressing the protesters at the SDM office, Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, state president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan), said nine farmer organisations would meet on August 4 to chalk out the future action plan to compel the state government to scrap the notification, issued regarding acquisition of land in Dhaula, Sangherra and Fatehgarh Chhanna villages in Barnala subdivision.

He asked the farmers to be ready to participate in a big agitation if the government did not give up its policy of acquiring land of the farmers forcibly and scrap the notification related to acquisition of land in three Barnala villages.

Mr Ugrahan warned Mr Rajinder Gupta, Managing Director of the Trident Group of Industries, for whom the land has been acquired in three Barnala villages, that if the farmers made up their mind to demolish the boundary wall erected by him around the acquired land, nobody could stop them from doing so. He exhorted Mr Gupta to leave the possession of the acquired 376 acres at once. However, he said, if any farmer wanted to sell him his land voluntarily, then the farmer bodies would not have any objection.

Mr Ugrahan asked the state government to withdraw “false cases” registered against farmers during the agitation, and grant a job and Rs 10 lakh as compensation to the family of Sarmukh Singh Jethuke, who had lost his life in jail during the farmers’ agitation.

He asked the Union Government to stop import of wheat from Australia and other countries without any delay so that the farmers of the country could get remunerative prices.

He asked the Punjab Government to write off all bank loans, taken by the farmers, as they were unable to pay their loans.

The protesters were addressed among others by Mr Malkiat Singh Wazidke, district president of the Zamhoori Kisan Sabha; Mr Bukan Singh Sadowal, district president of the BKU (Ugrahan); Mr Jaspal Singh, Mehal Kalan Block president of the BKU (Sidhupur); Mr Gurdev Singh Dardi, a state-level leader of the Punjab Kisan Sabha (Taggar); and Mr Gursewak Singh, a leader of Punjab Kisan Sabha (Sambar).


Farmers’ bodies to meet on Aug 4 to intensify stir 
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Nine farmers' organisations, whose call for a fortnight-long "jail-bharo andolan" ended today without a single farmer being arrested, reiterated their decision to continue their agitation till their demands were conceded by the Punjab Government.

"It is a moral victory for us and a big defeat for the Congress government which, by refusing to arrest any farmer during the court-arrest protests held at 58 tehsil headquarters in the state during the past 15 days, has strengthened our resolve to carry the fight ahead.We will now meet on August 4 to decide how to intensify our ongoing agitation," said Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri, spokesman for the nine organisations.

Today, said Mr Kokri, hundreds of farmers, accompanied by their wives and children, assembled in Barnala, Ludhiana, Mansa, Bathinda, Moga, Faridkot, Ferozepore, Kapurthala, Pathankot, Baba Bakala, Nakodar,Rajpura, Gidderbaha,Amloh, Abohar and Sultanpur and offered themselves for arrest. But the police refused to arrest anyone. Protest rallies were organised at each of these venues.

The nine farmers' organisations, including the Bharti Kisan Union-Ekta, the Punjab Kisan Sabha, the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, the All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha and the Zameen Bachao Committee, have been agitating for a long time in protest against the acquisition of land for industrial houses and seeking adequate compensation for next of kin of those farmers who were killed during the agitation, the writing off of all loans of farmers, the scrapping of the wheat import policy, an increase in subsidies to the farm sector and remunerative prices for farm produce.

They are also demanding the withdrawal of all police cases registered against farmers during the current agitation.

Mr Kokri said the government in its endeavour to crush the agitation refused to arrest any farmer. "Its apathy towards the long-standing demands of the farmers is condemnable. Such moves of the government will not deter us from intensifying our struggle."

Those who addressed protest rallies on the last day of the "jail-bharo andolan" included Mr Bhupinder Sambhar, Mr Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, Mr Lehmber Singh Taggar, Mr Kulwant Singh Sandhu, Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, Mr Ruldu Singh Mansa, Mr Prem Singh Bhangu and Mr Baljinder Singh Dhola.

These leaders maintained that the "nefarious" designs of the government of dispossessing farmers of their cultivable land by acquiring it for industrial giants would not be allowed to succeed.

"We will continue our agitation till the land which has been forcibly acquired is restored to the farmers," they asserted.


Illegal mining causes Chaki river to erode banks
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur July 21
Illegal mining has started taking its toll on the Chaki river. With the first monsoon showers the river has started eroding its banks. The erosion is posing a serious threat to national installations including the railway bridge, the vital bridge on Pathankot Jammu national highway number 1, air force station and habitations in village Siali Kullian.

The maximum damage has been done to the vital railway bridge on the Chaki. The gushing water of the river has eroded the studs protecting the pillars of the railway bridge. The water was cutting the earth beneath the bridge. The rapid erosion was also being caused to the bridge on national highway number no 1 connecting Pathankot with Damtal area of Himachal.

One pillar of the bridge has titled due to persistent erosion. Last year the PWD authorities took some measures to protect the damaged pillar. Even now the department personal have been posted round the clock at the bridge to assess the damage to the bridge.

The illegal mining has reduced the distance between the Chaki river and the Air Force station to dangerous limits. The Air Force authorities have written time and again to the authorities concerned regarding the threat posed to their installations due to illegal mining. However, no action has been taken.

Besides, the river has caused massive erosion in Saili Kulian village. Due to erosion in the hillock on which the village is located many houses are now on the edge of river bank. The people of the village are demanding immediate protection works to save their houses.

The sources here said the water flow in the Chaki river has been within its carrying capacity. Till date this season a maximum of 50000 cusec water has been recorded in the river. However, the depth of the river has increased tremendously due to illegal mining.

As per the records of the irrigation department at places the bed level of the river has gone down by about 30 feet at many places. Due increased depth the water of river was cutting its banks leading to massive erosion and damage to vital installations.

The department of Public health has also written to the department of industries regarding the illegal mining. They have alleged that the large scale illegal mining has finished the water retaining capacity of the river. Due to it water discharge in many of their water supply schemes has been reduced considerably. Most of water supply schemes for hilly areas around Pathankot are located in Chaki.

Environmentalists have demanded a total ban on mining in Chaki. They alleged that unprecedented mining in the river by about 200 stone crushers in the area had ready done irreparable damage to the river.


Jai Rup Singh new GND varsity VC
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Jai Rup Singh
Dr Jai Rup Singh

Amritsar, July 21
Internationally renowned geneticist, Dr Jai Rup Singh, Professor of Human Genetics and Coordinator of Centre for Genetic Disorders of Guru Nanak Dev University, has been appointed as Vice-Chancellor of the university for a period of three years.

He would succeed Dr S.P.Singh who was appointed to the post in July 2001.

This is for the first time that a scientist has occupied the post of Vice- Chancellor since the foundation of GNDU in 1969.

His appointment has been made by the Governor of Punjab, Gen (Retd) S.F. Rodrigues in the capacity of the Chancellor of the University through a notification issued by the Punjab Raj Bhawan today.

It is believed that Dr Singh was the personal choice of the Governor-cum-Chancellor, Gen (retd) S.F. Rodrigues, who personally convinced the Chief Minister that merit should be the criterion for the appointments in academic institutions.

Though many candidates, having political connections made efforts, but ultimately the choice of Gen Rodrigues prevailed .

Dr Singh is the son of eminent Punjabi scholar, Prof Pritam Singh, and grandson of Giani Sahib Singh, a great Sikh scholar.He had made world-renowned research in association with Dr Daljit Singh, a Padmashri awardee.

Talking to The Tribune, Dr Singh said he would help in promoting research in science, arts , sports and other fields.

“Academic institutions should be known for their excellence rather than constructing mere buildings,” Dr Singh said.

He asserted that he would try to involve students, teachers and NGOs to promote research and academics.

Dr Singh said it would be his sincere endeavour to involve private sector, including hospitals, to promote research in different fields.

To a question, Dr Singh said he would definitely provide all sorts of facilities for producing Olympians.

The FIMSA recipient, Dr Jai Rup Singh is the Scientific Advisor of GENDIA International Foundation, USA, representing India; Chairman of the Indian Genetic Alliance for the Prevention of Genetic Disorders and Care of the Families; President of the Indian Society of Human Genetics (2001; 2002); Vice-President of the International Genetic Alliance, USA, representing Asia, World Eye Foundation India; the International Association of Human Biologists representing Southern Asia.

An eminent scientist, Dr Jai Rup Singh did his doctorate from AIIMS in 1973 and joined the Guru Nanak Dev University the same year.

He was elevated to the post of Professor in 1986. He set up the first independent Department of Human Genetics in India at this university and also established a unique internationally reputed Centre for Genetic Disorders a first in any Indian university.

Recently, in a major breakthrough, the team led by Dr Jai Rup Singh, 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, had 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 this research had been carried out on congenital cataract for the past 30 years.

Dr. Singh has published three scientific books, eleven manuals and over 80 research publications.

He has guided over 50 students for Ph.D., M.Phil., M.D. and M.Sc. He had successfully organised four international symposia on Human Genetics and 12 training workshops.

He has also organised free diagnosis of genetic diseases like thalassemia and also providing genetic diagnosis, counselling and guidance to patients since 1973.

Dr Jai Rup Singh had been honoured with various medals and awards in recognition of his commendable services in the field of Human Genetics.

He is the Pioneer in India in Human Genetics: prenatal and postnatal diagnosis of genetic diseases.

He has localized the first disease causing genes responsible for congenital cataract in India.

He did significant basic and clinically oriented research on genetics of infertility and eye disease.


CM must commit to EC on tainted leaders: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today dared Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to officially communicate to the Election Commission that none of Congress ministers and other leaders facing corruption charges would be named as candidate during the forthcoming Assembly poll in the state.

The Akali leader challenged the Chief Minister to “display the moral courage to fight the forthcoming election on the issue of corruption.” Reacting to Capt Amarinder Singh’s statement that no tainted minister or leader would be given ticket for the forthcoming elections, Mr Badal asked the Chief Minister to make the allegations of corruption levelled by Congressmen against one another the basis of rejection of ticket.

“The first person to be disqualified, if this yardstick was honestly applied, would be the Chief Minister himself against whom his deputy Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had levelled serious allegations. Congress leader Bir Devinder Singh had identified the Chief Minister’s ‘crony’ Chaudhary Jagjit Singh as the “mother of all corruption” in the state,” Mr Badal alleged.


Mock exercise leaves district officials fuming
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 21
The police here received a red-alert message on its communication system today morning (at 3 a.m.). The message which caused panic was that there was a blast in Jammu Tawi train at Bariar Railway station near Pathankot.

The police force swung into action on receiving the message. Police officers, including the SSP, were shaken from sleep by the message. As they were getting ready to react to the situation another message was received that two persons had died in the blast and railway link on the Pathankot-Jammu section had been disrupted.

Police officials and the SSP got the force into action. The force was directed to move to Pathankot to tackle the situation. About 500 policemen were mobilised from the district and sent to Pathankot to tackle the situation following the blast.

The SSP also rang up the DIG, Border Range, regarding the incident. Senior police officers reached Pathankot at 4 a.m. Warning hooters of the police rang through Pathankot city.

However, after reaching Pathankot policemen came to know that railway traffic was normal.

When senior police officials asked the local Railway authorities about the message they were told that it was a mock exercise. The Railway authorities had conducted the exercise to check preparedness following blasts in trains at Mumbai.

Conduct of the Railway authorities left higher officials of the district fuming. SSP Gurdaspur Paramraj Singh Umranangal alleged the Railway authorities had informed neither him nor the Deputy Commissioner regarding the mock exercise.

I have sent a complaint to higher authorities of the Railways through the Deputy Commissioner against the conduct of the Railway authorities. All cops on patrol duty in the district in the morning were withdrawn and moved to Pathankot leaving thieves to strike in any part of the district.

The Railway authorities should have at least informed him about the mock exercise, the SSP said.

Such acts of the Railway authorities can also create mistrust in various wings of administration and these may not act swiftly to the call in future thinking it to be a hoax call, he added.


Riot-hit given cheques
Terror victims seek similar package
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 21
The local administration has started distributing grants to the 1984 riot victims settled in the district. The SDM, Pathankot, Mr Amarjeet Paul, along with the local MLA, Mr Ashok Sharma, distributed grant cheques for Rs 2 lakh each to 16 families of riot victims.

The victims had migrated to the district after the riots. The SDM said 22 families had already been issued the cheques. The claims of others, where the head of the family had died, were also being verified and processed. They would be issued grants after their claims were verified, the SDM said.

Besides Pathankot, 59 riot victims were issued the grant in Gurdaspur, 82 in Batala and 10 in Dera Baba Nanak.

The riot victims are being given grants as per the directions of the Centre.

Meanwhile, terrorist-affected families have also started demanding a similar package.

A large number of terrorist-affected families migrated from villages to Pathankot and other cities during terrorism days in Punjab. Many of them were forced to sell their land for peanuts due to threats from terrorists.

Many affected families are now living in abject poverty as they have lost their land and source of livelihood. These families are alleging that like the riot victims they were also forced to migrate from their native villages. They have also lost their family members, breadwinners and property at the hands of terrorists. So, the government should give them a package similar to the one given to the riot victims.

Though the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has recommended the case for compensation to terrorist victims in Punjab, no response has been received from the Centre in this regard.

The terrorist victims in the district have organised processions many times to press for their demands.


CM flags off first AC bus to Chandigarh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 21
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today said that the fare of the direct bus service from Amritsar to Lahore and Nanakana Sahib was too high for a common man and should be reduced considerably.

While talking to mediapersons, here, Capt Singh said:"Moreover, the procedure to obtain visa from Delhi was also too cumbersome and we have taken up this issue to ease the visa norms with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh". He said once the state government succeeded in opening a visa office at Amritsar and slashing the fare, this bus service would evoke an encouraging response.

Capt Singh said the state government was all set to revolutionise the state transport system and would soon start air conditioned buses from various district headquarters.

After flagging off the first super deluxe AC bus from Amritsar to Chandigarh here, Capt Singh said the department had already purchased eight such buses which would be soon pressed into service on Chandigarh-Abohar via Patiala, Chandigarh-Katra and Amritsar-Delhi route.

To another question about the plying of illegal deluxe buses by private operators, he said the buses being operated by the private operators were mostly illegal as these were contract carriage buses and not meant to carry regular passengers.

Capt Singh said his government had added 900 new buses in the fleet of Punjab Roadways and Pepsu Road Transport Corporation, besides Punbus was also introducing 300 more ordinary buses in its existing fleet in the coming months.

Referring to the salient features of the bus after inspecting the bus from inside, Capt Singh said the bus had fully reclining luxury seats fitted with table tops, mobile charging points and was fitted with all weather air-conditioners. Besides the bus had been provided with double TFT screen television, DVD and music system.

The bus on the Chanidgarh-Amritsar route would daily leave Amritsar for Chandigarh at 4.45 am and from Chandigarh to Amritsar at 5.00 pm from Sector 17 bus stand. The fare on the Chandigarh-Amritsar route would be Rs300. Passengers would get advance booking on these buses by contacting the station supervisors of Amritsar and Chandigarh bus stand by calling 92161-11222 or 0172-2660672 for Chandigarh and 0183-2551734 for Amritsar. 


Sidhu dismayed over empty buses to Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 21
The much hyped Amritsar-Nankana Sahib and Amritsar-Lahore buses have run into rough weather and are plying sans passenger. The bus services were started with great fanfare in March this year. This was stated by Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, BJP MP. He said the bus services had failed to fulfil the purpose and aspirations of the people.

Accompanied by newsmen, Mr Sidhu today visited the international bus terminus on the G.T. Road and expressed dismay that not even a single passenger was taking the bus to Lahore. He said it was highly deplorable that in the absence of any policy the Central Government was forced to ply nearly empty buses on these routes.

He further said the passengers wishing to travel on these buses had to faced security and bureaucratic hurdles.

He blamed the Central Government for deliberately denying the people of the state free travel to their holy shrines in Pakistan. He urged the government to relax visa restriction and open up a visa centre in Amritsar. 


Another woman dies of gastroenteritis
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, July 21
Another woman Chand Rani died at Nakodar due to gastroenteritis today. With this the death toll has risen to four while more than 200 residents still were suffering from it in Nakodar.

Though the health authorities claimed the today’s death due to heart attack, but Bahujan Samaj Party’s state general secretary M.P. Singh Goraya who visited and read the file number 2837 of the deceased, found that the doctor on duty had written “Guess the cause of death?” Mr Goraya claimed that the 50-bed Civil Hospital of Nakodar was crowded as only 65 patients of gastro were being treated in the hospital besides other patients. He alleged several patients were lying in verandahs of the hospital.

He said 17 more patients of gastroenteritis were admitted to the Nakodar Civil Hospital today. Health authorities and Nagar Council officials of Nakodar were negligent and no proper care was being taken. He alleged Gaunspura, Guru Nanak Pura, Kamalpura, Dheeran Mohallas, Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar, Preet Nagar, Kherra, Charsi Bazar besides several other areas of the town were affected with gastroenteritis but the administration was silent. He urged Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner Venu Parshad to take action against the guilty officers who failed to take preventive measures. Mrs Ram Rakhi (60) of Gaunspur mohalla, Banso (58) of Gaunspur mohalla and Niranjan Dass of Dheeran mohalla had died due to gastroenteritis last month. Mr Goraya urged the DC to instruct the officials concerned to do post-morterm of the body of Chand Rani who died at Nakodar today.


Gas from fields leaves students unconscious
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, July 21
A poisonous gas from pesticide-sprayed sugarcane fields of a farmer, Makhan Singh, left 65 of the 166 students of the nearby Government Elementary School at Silkiana village and its Head Teacher, Ms Joginder Kaur, unconscious this morning.

The SDM, Mr S.M. Sharma, and the Block Education Officer, Ms Gurbachan Kaur, said students felt giddiness and many of them fell unconscious. While some students ran away from school, 18 persons, including the Head Teacher, Ms Joginder Kaur, a teacher, Ms Asha Sharma, 12 students and some persons residing in the school’s vicinity, were admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

One student was admitted to a private hospital. Doctors at the hospital said all of them were out of danger. Meanwhile, the SDM has ordered that the school will remain closed tomorrow as a preventive measure.

The Phillaur MLA, Chaudhary Santokh Singh, visited the site along with a team of civil and police officials. 


Tanker drivers continue strike
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 21
Protesting against the alleged thrashing of a tanker driver and a cleaner by the Faridkot police, the Petroleum Oil Tanker Contractors and Workers Union today continued their strike even as two cops were placed under suspension in the case.

The strike has hit the supply of petroleum products from the local oil depot. Mr Gurlabh Singh of the union said they staged a dharna at Phus Mandi against the police “excesses” on driver Bhola Singh and cleaner Baldev Singh.

He said he was unaware of any action being taken against the policemen who had reportedly beaten them up. He said their protest would continue till action was initiated against a DSP who was also present on the spot.

The incident occurred on the night of July 17. While the police claimed that the driver didn’t stop at the checkpost and was caught after a chase, the victims alleged that their vehicle was searched for poppy husk and they were thrashed after nothing was recovered.

On the other hand, Faridkot SSP Arun Pal Singh said the SP (H) had submitted an interim report to him on the matter. He said initially two policemen, Balkaran Singh and Gurdev Singh, were found guilty and they were suspended with immediate effect.


Ex-ministers will be asked to repay loans
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Certain former ministers who have not returned loans advanced to them for building houses or buy cars by the Punjab Government will be asked to return the same at the earliest.

Sources today said that the case in this regard had been prepared by the Department of Parliamentary Affairs and had been forwarded to the higher authorities concerned. It had been proposed that defaulter former ministers should be asked to return the loan due against them at the earliest. In all, there were eight such former ministers.

Interestingly, the defaulter belong to almost all main political parties, including the SAD, the Congress and the BJP. At least three who have not returned their loans belong to the SAD, one to the BJP and two to the Congress. One defaulter is now a part of an Akali faction opposed to the SAD.

The sources said five former ministers had taken a loan of Rs 5 lakh each to build houses and two former had taken Rs 6 lakh each for this purpose some years ago. Five such ministers had taken loan in the range of Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh to buy cars.

Interest is chargeable on these loans which are advanced by the government. “We have not yet calculated the total amount by including interest that is to be recovered from the former ministers concerned,” said a government official.

He said the matter was taken up with the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Secretariate. However, Vidhan Sabha officials say that as the loan was advanced by the government, its recovery is also to be made by the government.

The sources said such loans could not be waived. Moreover, the defaulters are well-off and they could return the loan. The loan could be recovered by deducting the amount from the pension which is given to former ministers, they added.


Foeticide to cause social disorder: DC
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July.21.
The declining sex ratio is a matter of concern and if the trend continues, it will lead to social disorder. Female foeticide is a blot on society, said Ms Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing a workshop at Aam Khas Bagh here today.

The workshop on “Declining sex ratio and its effect on society” was organised by the District Social Security Department.

She said society as a whole need to change its attitude towards the women. She said social organisations should come forward to curb the menace like dowry and crime against women.

She claimed that due to consistent efforts of the district administration the sex ratio in the district had improved but still much needed to be done.

Dr Rakesh Gupta, Civil Surgeon, said that the district Health Department had initiated various steps to curb the menace of female foeticide and the PNDT Act had been implemented strictly. He said that surprise raids on private hospitals were being conducted regularly.

Mr M. M.Sharma, Director, WHA, Punjab, in his address said that their organisation was working hard to improve the sex ratio in the state. Certain villages had been adopted by the association where the sex ratio was the lowest. 


New SDMs for Fazilka, other towns
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Several postings and transfers were ordered by the Punjab Government today.
Mr Arshdeep Singh Thind is the new SDM of Amloh. Mr Manashvi Kumar has been posted as SDM, Dhar Kala. Mr Varun Roojam will be the SDM of Fazilka while Ms Kavita Mohan Singh Chouhan becomes the SDM of Fatehgarh Sahib.

Mr Harbhupinder Singh will be the Director, Colonisation. Mr Shiv Ram Kaler has been posted as the DDULB, Ludhiana, and will also be the ACA, PUDA, Ludhiana.

Ms Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu becomes the AETC, Patiala, and in addition Administrator-cum-Joint Controller, Government Press, Patiala.

Mr G.S. Ghuman has been posted as the LAC, Directorate, Industries and Commerce, and in addition Joint Secretary, Housing and Urban Development.

Mr Vimal Kumar Setia is the new SDM, Gurdaspur. Ms Parneet Shergil becomes the EO, PUDA, Patiala, and in addition the Additional MD, PRTC, Patiala.


Frame code of conduct, arhtiyas told
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The Punjab Government has started discussions with arhtiyas on the issue of advancing loans to farmers.
The government wanted to take commission agents into confidence before making any law regulating the system of advancement of loans by commission agents or money lenders to farmers and weaker sections of society.

A deputation of commission agents today met Mr Lal Singh, Rural Development and Panchayat Minister and discussed at length the loans advanced to farmers.

Mr Lal Singh persuaded them to frame a code of conduct regarding the advancement of loans. The Minister told them that government was going to adopt one plus one policy under which if a farmer returned double the amount of loan he had taken, the remaining amount should be waived and the same pattern should be adopted by the association.


Senior citizen goes missing
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 21
A renowned social worker of Bassi Pathana, Mr Prem Chand Bansal (67), went missing from his house yesterday morning.
According to the FIR recorded, he left Bassi Pathana for Sirhind at about 9 am but did not return back.

Giving details about him, the family members said that he was 5’ 8” and was bald. There was a sign of plastic surgery on his right leg. The family has announced a handsome reward for anyone who could locate him.


Govt to modernise fish farms
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 21
The Punjab Government has planned to modernise all fish seed farms of the state at the total cost of Rs 212 lakh. This was disclosed by Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Animal Husbandry and Tourism, Punjab, while talking to mediapersons here this afternoon.

He said to modernise fish seed farm,Hariana (Hoshiarpur), the government had provided Rs 78 lakh under Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana.

Modern infrastructure would be created at the seed farm to enhance fish seed production to meet the increasing demand.

Besides, Rs 134 lakh had been provided for the modernisation of all remaining government fish seed farms of the state. It would bring a revolution in fish seed production programme, he said.

Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang further stated that the farmers of Punjab had started adopting fish farming as a diversification from traditional wheat-paddy pattern.

The state had covered an area of about 9890.57 hectare under fish culture. The total fish production in the state from all sources had touched 85,642.36 tonne.

He said as many as 2304 persons were given basic training during 2005-06 in fish farming and financial assistance of Re 690.05 lakh was arranged.

He further disclosed that about 500 village ponds in Hoshiarpur were being renovated with the total cost of about Rs 3.5 crore under the National Employment Guarantee Programme.

It would enhance gram panchyats’ income and provide employment to the youths.

He also said the Punjab government had framed a new scheme to motivate 1000 families to adopt fish farming in one hectare land as diversification of agriculture.

The state government would arrange Rs 2.5 lakh as financial assistance for each family from banks and provide Rs 82,500 as subsidy and for this purpose government had made additional provision of Rs 8 crore.

The Minister also disclosed that Punjab was the only state in the country, which had amended rules under the Punjab Fisheries Act, 1914, to implement ban on culture and handling of ‘Thai magur’ fish in any form.

The state government was also planning better fisheries conservation and management of wetlands (Ranjit Sagar, Harike, KanjIi and Ropar).

Referring to the promotion of tourism in state, Mr Kang said a conference of northern states would be organised by the end of October, 2006, in which tourism ministers of various states would participate. 


3 more held for contract killings
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 21
With the arrest of three persons last evening, six of the nine allegedly involved in the contract killings of a farmer, his mother and sister at Jandwala village near Guruharsahai town in the district on July 12 have been arrested.

The Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Arpit Shukla, said today that while Paramjit Kaur, the second wife of the slain farmer, her father, Dr Hardeep Singh, and a local conduit, Bohar Singh, had been arrested earlier and remanded in judicial custody by a trial court, the kingpin of the gang, Baldev Singh, a resident of Saideke village in Faridkot district, Prem Singh, a resident of Guruharsahai, and Jaswant Singh, alias Jassa, a resident of Peer-ke-khangarh (Mamdot), were arrested last evening.

The police seized a rifle, a revolver and a sharp-edged weapon used in the triple murder.

Mr Shukla said investigation by Mr K. S. Gill, SP (D), indicated that Dr Hardeep Singh, alias Gurdeep Singh, of Hadeewala village had contacted Gurcharan Singh, Sarpanch of the village, and sought his help in eliminating his son-in-law Daljeet Singh, his mother and sisters to grab 80 acres of agricultural land. 


3 robbers held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 21
The police arrested three members of a inter-state gang of robbers while they were preparing to commit a robbery in the Kalodi Gate area here last night.
Known as the Muradabadi gang, they specialised in stealing money from scooter dickeys and were on the ‘most wanted’ list in four states.

Among the arrested was the gang leader Jatinder Kumar of Muradabad, who had been declared a proclaimed offender by courts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Punjab for his alleged involvement in about 21 crimes.

The other members of the gang who were arrested were Rajesh Kumar and Jeet Singh. One 12 bore pistol, one 315 bore pistol and two knives were recovered from their possession.

According to SP Mandeep Singh Sidhu, the modus operandi of the gang was to keep an eye on the persons withdrawing cash from a bank.

Any person who kept the cash in his scooter’s dickey would be followed. The gang waited for the person to park his scooter somewhere after which they used to break open the dickey and flee away with the cash.

He said that the gang members kept changing their places of operation in these four states.

Mr Sidhu said that the information about their arrest had been flashed to all concerned so that they could also launch investigations against them. He hoped that the recovery of the looted cash would be made from them shortly.

A case under Section 399 and 402 of the IPC has been registered.


7 of family booked in dowry case
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, July 21
The Goindwal police has booked seven members, including three women, of a Chandigarh-based family for demanding dowry.
Mr Parveen Kumar Sinha, SSP, said here yesterday that a case had been registered on the complaint of Ms. Inderpal Kaur, daughter of Mr. Baldev Singh of Goindwal Sahib, who was married to Bhupinder Singh of Chandigarh on February 13,2004 InderPal Kaur alleged that she soon after her marriage her in-laws started harassing her for dowry. Besides the husband, the other accused include Kuldeep Singh (father-in-law), Kulwant Kaur (mother-in-law), Sodhi Singh, Kulbir Kaur, Gurcharan Kaur and Kamaljit Kaur.


Printing error creates panic among students
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 21
A printing mistake by Punjab School Education Board caused concern among scores of reappear candidates of senior secondary exam here last evening as the admit card received by them mentioned a Ropar school as their exam centre.

Talking to The Tribune, Jaskirat Singh, a reappear candidate, who has to appear in Chemistry paper on July 25, said: “I was shocked to see a government senior secondary school of Ropar being mentioned as my exam centre.” He said as he had received the card in the evening he could not contact any board office to know as to how he was given an exam centre in Ropar.

Another reappear candidate Gurpreet Singh also complained that he too had been given exam centre in Ropar. He said he approached the school board’s textbook depot in the city and came to know that it was a printing mistake. “The authorities told me to fax an application to the board office in Mohali in this regard at the earliest to get my exam centre changed to Bathinda,” he added. He said his friends had also got their exam centre in Ropar.

The DEO (Secondary), Ms Surinder Kaur Kataria, said she was not aware of the matter as the department would receive the list of candidates on July 24. She said they had made four exam centres in Bathinda for reappear exams. She said she would take up the matter with the schools concerned.


Minority institutes: govt issues fresh notification
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The Punjab Government has decided to treat Christian Medical College and the medical and dental institutes being run by the SGPC as minority community institutes and keep those out of the purview of the notification which was issued on April 24.

The state government has issued another notification superseding the earlier notification. The new notification has been issued in the light of an ordinance issued yesterday, effecting changes in the Punjab Private Health Sciences Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission, Fixation of Fee and Making of Reservation) Act, 2006.

Stating this here today, a spokesman for the government said the NRI seats shall be 15 per cent of the total annual sanctioned strength of the institute, subject to the further limitation imposed by the government on government institutes.

Admission against NRI seats for foreign Indian students would be made by the management of the college concerned in the presence of a university representative in accordance with the provisions relating to the filling of seats under the quota in the MBBS/BDS/BAMS/BHMS courses.

The list of applicants who have applied to the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, would be considered in the first place by each private institution. Thereafter, in case some seats remain vacant, these institutes can seek more applications from candidates who did not apply to the university earlier. These institutes would conduct the admissions against the remaining seats in the presence of the representatives of the university.

The management quota shall be filled by the centralised admission committee out of the applicants who had already applied for admission to the Baba Farid university. Further, the management could call for applications for filling leftout seats after September 10 as per the criteria in the notification issued on April 24.

These institutes shall complete the admissions by September 30 and send the details to the university immediately thereafter.

The distribution of seats in view of the above would be notified in respect of each institute the by July 23. The same shall be put on the website of the university.

The notification for the PPMET-2006 dated June 30 also stands amended. The diploma and certificate courses have been taken out of the purview of the entrance test.


Teachers’ body rues Principal’s ‘humiliation’
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, July 21
The district unit of the Punjab State Aided School Teachers and other Employees Union is sitting on a dharna in front of the local Doaba Arya Senior Secondary School since Monday to protest against the ‘callous’ attitude of the school management towards Mr Hans Raj Sharma, Principal of the school.

Mr Rajinder Sharma, Mr Bhupinder Pal Singh, resident and secretary, respectively, of the district unit, Mr Baldev Singh Pabla, convenor, Action Committee, accused the school management of flouting all legal and moral norms to ‘humiliate’ the Principal.

The management had withdrawn his administrative and financial powers in March 2004 violating the Security of Services Act meant for the employees of govt-aided schools.

The DPI(S), Punjab, on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had also issued speaking orders in favour of Mr Hans Raj Sharma about a year ago.

Besides, an inquiry committee constituted by the local MLA and Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Parkash Singh, to probe into the allegations of embezzlement being leveled by the school management, had also given the Principal a clean chit.

But, the school management had been denying compliance to both the orders of DPI(S) and the report of the inquiry committee. Moreover, the management has put Mr Hans Raj Sharma under suspension on July 15.

Terming the suspension of Mr Hans Raj Sharma as another example of vindictive attitude of the management towards him, the union leaders posed a query that if the management committee had put Mr Hans Raj Sharma under suspension now, then what it did during March 24, 2004, to July 14,2006, needed to be explained.

These was no provision of ‘withdrawing administrative and financial powers’ from a Principal in the Security of Services Act, they added.

Mr. Baldev Singh Pabla, convenor, Action Committee, said the union had started getting support from various Employees and other organisations. 


65 teachers found absent in Gurdaspur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Seventeen teams of the Punjab Education Department, led by the DPI(Elementary), Mr Jagtar Singh, conducted a surprise check at 179 schools in Gurdaspur district today.

They found 65 teachers were absent while 43 teachers had come in late. Another three had appointed proxy teachers to teach children on their behalf.

The absent teachers have been chargesheeted for major penalty, including break in service. Those who had appointed proxy teachers will also face the same chargesheet and stand transferred to Mansa district, officials of the Education Department said tonight.

The teachers coming in late have been chargesheeted for minor penalty.


LLB, MA (Punjabi) results
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Panjab University has declared the result of LLB (sixth semester) and MA—Punjabi (part I) examinations held in April/May 2006. These would be available on the university website www.puchd.ac.in after 12noon on July 22.


Bank employees’ demonstration
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 21
On a call given by All India Bank Employees Association and All India bank Officers Association, members of the Punjab Bank Employees Federation held a demonstration in front of the State Bank of Patiala’s head office here today.

The employees were demanding withdrawal of the circular pertaining to the outsourcing of banking services and withdrawal of the RBI decision on the outsourcing of clearing operations.

The employees also urged the management to fill up the nearly one lakh vacancies in banks through recruitment.

The bank leaders who spoke on the occasion said if the RBI instructions were not withdrawn, the employees would be forced to go on a strike on July 28 while a series of dharnas would be launched on July 25.


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