P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


30,000 Punjabis still ‘stranded’ in Lebanon
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 24
As many as 30,000 Punjabis were still stranded in Lebanon, claimed one of the evacuees who reached his Kalsian village near the last night. Un-remunerative forming was forcing Punjabi youth to countries like Lebanon, some of whom have been evacuated by the Indian Embassy in that country.

Now when that region has become war-ravaged parents of evacuated youths feel scared to send them again there. However the evacuees were still ready to return if conditions improved in that country.

According to Mr Joginder Singh of Kalsian village near here and an evacuee in Operation Sukoon, at least 30,000 Punjabis majority of them from farming families were stranded in Lebanon. “Besides 15,000 Punjabis living legally there an equal number had reportedly shifted allegedly in illegal manner. But the Indian embassy did not discriminate between the two categories and promptly prepared documents for the evacuation of everyone irrespective of his status in that country,” said Joginder Singh to The Tribune.

Surrounded by his relatives, who had come to know-his well-being Joginder Singh, a White Card holder of Lebanon said hundreds of youths who had gone in search of greener pastures after spending thousands , had to leave their property, money and everything they had with them. Evacuation, according to him would become more difficult in future as Syria had refused to give passage to evacuees. However, the naval ship carrying him along with 53 other Punjabis had passed through Larcana and Cyprus to reach Mumbai.

Terrorism in the last decade of 20th century, forced Joginder Singh, and many more, to leave the country and settle in any foreign country irrespective of future prospects. “As a large number of Sikh youth had been harassed either by the police or the hardliners my parents decided to send me to some foreign country in 1990. I was lucky enough to get permanent card at Lebanon a rigorous life for many years,” said Mr Joginder Singh.

Though terrorism was cited as major reason for shifting to a disturbed country like Lebanon he continued living there as agriculture was not remunerative enough to support families of three brothers here. “Though life is very hard in Lebanon, particularly for unskilled labour, it decided to settle permanently there considering economic position of my parents and brothers. Instead of being profitable agriculture has been pushing the family in vicious circle of loans and losses,” explained Mr Joginder Singh.

Mr Joginder went to Lebanon on June 24 after getting married to Baljit Kaur of Kaunke Kalan on February 24. Baljit Kaur like other members of families at Kalsian and Kaunke had been cursing the times when the elder members of both families allowed Joginder to return to Lebanon so soon.

But we are happy that our prayers bore fruit, when the Indian embassy officials acted swiftly and arranged to send as many families as could,” thanked Mrs Bachan Kaur, mother of Mr Joginder Singh.


Panthic bodies flay Vedanti for ‘secret meeting’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 24
The “secret meeting” between Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, and senior BJP leaders in the presence of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) supremo Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Avtar Singh, president, SGPC, here yesterday has evoked strong reactions in the Sikh circles. Rival Panthic factions, including Dal Khalsa, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, have convened an emergency meeting on July 26 at Chandigarh to discuss the matter.

However, Jathedar Vedanti pleaded that he was not aware of the fact that Mr Badal would be bringing Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, a member of Parliament, and Mr R.P. Singh, a close confidant of BJP president Rajnath Singh for the meeting.

When contacted, Mr Daljit Singh Bedi, assistant secretary and in charge of the publicity wing, said the SGPC had no intention to issue a clarification about the “secret meeting.” Though the SGPC chief was present in the city, yet he did not come forward to give any clarification on the issue.

Maj R.S. Gill , media adviser to Mr Sidhu, also refused to issue any clarification on his behalf.

The Dal Khalsa took Mr Badal to task for “arranging” a meeting between the Akal Takht Jathedar and BJP leaders. In a hard-hitting statement, party spokesman, Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, said it was pity that Mr Badal was paving way for the RSS to make inroads into the Sikh fold.

The SGPC chief, Mr Avtar Singh, who was also present in the meeting, also came in for a sharp criticism from the Dal Khalsa. Justifying the ban imposed by Akal Takht on the Rahstriya Sikh Sangat, an offshoot of the RSS, Mr Kanwarpal Singh said there was no point in trusting the RSS time and again.

Meanwhile, Mr Jagmohan Singh Tony, general secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar ), in an open letter to Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, warned him for meddling in the affairs of Sikhs.

The open letter reads, “of late, in cohorts with Mr Badal, you have started meddling in the religious affairs of the Sikhs. I have no hesitation in saying that you are not qualified to indulge in Panthic affairs. To accompany a Rashtriya Sikh Sangat activist, Mr R. P. Singh, in a surreptitious effort to pressurise the Jathedar of Akal Takht Sahib to withdraw the edict against the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, is totally unacceptable. We will not tolerate your nefarious designs.”

The Sikh clergy was already under heavy attack from the Panthic organisations for announcing exemption to all excommunicated persons from undergoing “tankhah” (punishment for religious misconduct) by January 13 next.

The move is being viewed as “unprecedented” in the 400 years of the history of Akal Takht. Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar, Akal Takht, announced that the move was unacceptable to the Sikh Panth and asked them to be ready for the dire consequences.

Mr Ritender Singh and Mr Amarjit Singh, leaders of Gursikh and Shehbaz Khalsa, equated Jathedar Vedanti with “Aroor Singh,” who had honoured Gen Dyer at Akal Takht after the Jallianwala massacre.

They said the Sikh Panth would not tolerate rejoining of the excommunicated Pyara Singh Bhaniara, Gurbax Singh Kala Afghana and others without undergoing “tankhah.”


3 Sikh high priests appointed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 24
The SGPC appointed three high priests for Harmandar Sahib today. However, their installation, scheduled for July 31, was likely to be postponed since Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, was going to England.

These appointments may pave the way for the exit of three “granthis” of Darbar Sahib, including Jathedar Vedanti, who had been given extension after their superannuation. Jathedar Vedanti has been holding the dual charge of Akal Takht jathedar and Golden Temple priest.


Vigilance Bureau indicts Mandi Board officials
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
Certain senior officials of the Punjab Mandi Board and a senior officer of the state government has been indicted by the Vigilance Bureau in a case of allotment of shops at the new grain market in Mansa.

Earlier, a separate inquiry made by the Punjab Mandi Board authorities had also found irregularities in the allotment of shops and had recommended cancellation of allotment of shops.

As many as 511 applications were received by the Punjab Mandi Board officials in regard to the allotment of shops and of these about 300 persons were allotted shops. The Vigilance Bureau has also recommended the cancellation of allotment of shops. For the allotment of shops, a high level committee was setup in Mansa. The bureau has indicted certain members of that allotment committee.

In its report, the bureau has stated that money was sought from certain persons by certain officials for the allotment of shops. The bureau in its report has given names of such persons. It has recommended that a case should be registered against the officials who have committed irregularities in the allotment of shops.

Sources said the authorities concerned had issued chargsheet to certain officials on the orders passed by the Chairman of the board. Officials had been asked to give replies of the chargesheet in a stipulated period.

The sources said the board would suffer a financial loss because of this scandal. The board will have to return with interest the money it had taken from the allottees.


Cong launches mass contact programme
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 24
The Congress launched its mass contact programme in the Sirhind constituency by organising a rally at Raipur Rali village in the district today.

Mr Jasbir Singh of the same village and Mr Bahadur Singh of Raipur Gujran village joined the Congress along with their supporters.

Chief Parliamentary Secretary Dr Harbans Lal highlighted the achievements of the state government and the development projects initiated by him in the constituency.

He claimed that there was a Congress wave in the state and the party would win more than 100 seats in the Assembly elections next year.

He said employment avenues would be generated with the starting of mega-projects worth crores and at least 22 lakh persons would get jobs.

PPCC vice-president Prem Lata claimed that big landlords, industrialists and rich persons had now been dominating the Shiromani Akali Dal.

DCC president Lakhbir Singh Rai said all Congress workers would be mobilised for the elections and the party would complete its programme in the constituency by August 15.

The village panchayat presented a charter of demands to the Chief Parliamentary Secretary.

He announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the panchayat and the village school.

He also laid the foundation stones of two roads, to be constructed at a cost of Rs 3.5 lakh each.


Badal promises free education to poor
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 24
With the elections approaching it is time for making promises, notwithstanding the fact how much exaggerated they sound. At its district-level rally for Dalits held here, the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, besides promising free electricity, today announced that if voted to power his party would ensure free education for all poor in the state.

An ultra modern school would be opened at each block level in which children from poor Dalit families would be given free education. He went on to add that his party would maintain a file of each youth in the state.

The file would indicate, the complete profile of the youth. Using the information from the file the party would ensure job for each youth as per his capabilities.

The SAD targeted Dalits and Christians in Gurdaspur. The rally was initially planned in new grain market. However, due to rain it had to organised in a marriage palace. The rain, however, could not dampen the spirits of the SAD workers. They came in large numbers, braving rain.

While addressing the gathering of party workers, Mr Badal said their government had given free power to poor Dalits. However, the present government discontinued the scheme. It was being implemented by the Congress government after more than four-year rule with elections in mind.

Mr Badal accused the Congress government of selling the state’s interests to the corporate houses. No company had practically set up any major unit in the state during the present stint of the Congress. However, huge chunks of valuable government land were being given to the corporate houses in the name of developing industrial units.


Bring parity in pension benefits of disabled soldiers: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
The president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today sought direct intervention of the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to bring parity in pension benefits for disabled soldiers of the Indian Army. At present, different sets of rules apply for disability of a regular officer and an emergency commissioned officer.

Mr Badal has sought a personal audience with the President and also the Prime Minister. He said bureaucrats were indifferent to the these soldiers. “These soldiers had fought foreign aggressors during the wars since independence,” said Mr Badal.

Mr Badal said he had directed all SAD MP's to raise this issue in the current session of Parliament. He also promised if the SAD came to power in Punjab, it would introduce “out of turn measures” to help the ex-servicemen, especially those who suffered in wars.

A committee would be set up to make recommendations in this regard.


SAD (A) to launch reform movement
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 24
Mr Daljit Singh Bittu, senior vice-president, SAD (Amritsar), today announced that the Gurdwara Reform Movement would be launched from Fatehgarh Sahib on August 4 by his party with the support of like-minded parties to bring the gurdwaras out of the possession of the SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Bittu, who was honoured by the district unit of the party on his first visit to this town, while talking to mediapersons alleged that Mr Badal had been using the gurdwaras and the offerings for his own political interests.

He said Mr Badal had also been using Akal Takht for his own vested interests.

Mr Badal had also facilitated the RSS to control the affairs of Akal Takht indirectly.

He pointed out that Mr Badal was under pressure for revoking the edict which Akal Takht had issued against the RSS. To a question, he said the main aim of the SAD (Amritsar) and other like-minded parties was that they should fight unitedly to keep Mr Badal and the Congress out of power in the coming Assembly elections.


Rajpura police station gheraoed
Beating up of Dalit boy

Tribune News Service

Rajpura, July 24
Demanding action against four persons allegedly involved in the beating up of a Dalit youth belonging to Ajror village, near here, irate villagers today gheraoed the Sadar Police Station.

Shouting slogans against the police for allegedly hushing up the case, scores of protesters threatened to intensify the agitation if strict action was not taken against the guilty.

The protesters alleged that 23-year-old Ramesh Kumar was picked up by four youths—Jaswinder Singh, Manjit, Naresh Kumar and Deepak Sharma—on the charges of stealing ear rings of the wife of Bittu, a contractor of Ajror village, on July 21. On the other hand, Ramesh claimed that Bittu owed him some money as he had worked for him. In fact, he had been demanding money from Bittu but to no avail.

Ramesh was taken to Naresh’s house and allegedly given a severe beating by the four persons. A forged compromise was also prepared by the accused, the protesters alleged.

However, on the insistence of Mr Sunil Puri, president of the Young Blood Donors Club, Ramesh was admitted to the local civil hospital. A complaint was also reportedly lodged with the police.

Meanwhile, the police had called both the parties to the police station tomorrow evening to investigate the matter.


Shop encroaches on road!
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot July 24
The local Improvement Trust authorities are in fix over allowing “construction” of a shop right on the Dalhousie road.

A structure was constructed overnight to avoid public attention. After public outrage, SDM Amarjeet Paul asked the authorities to explain the status of the building.

In the reply filed before the SDM, the authorities said they had allowed for repair of the existing temporary structure on the site.

However, it was found that a makeshift structure comprising a few iron sheets was located at a distance from the controversial structure.

The SDM told The Tribune that revenue officials had been directed to measure the breadth of the Dalhousie road. Its breadth was 105 feet. As per the report of the officials, the controversial structure had been raised as much as 15 feet into the road.

The trust authorities would be ordered to get the structure demolished, he said.

Encroachments are rampart here, allegedly under political patronage. Recently, there had been an attempt to construct shops right within the boundary of the local Civil Hospital. Those encroachers allegedly had political patronage. However, the district administration demolished the semi-finished structures.

The residents have demanded action against the persons involved in the encroachment on the road. However, the authorities have not pulled down the illegal structure which has blocked the road that is life line of the city.

The trust authorities were not available for comments.


Bank staff lodge protest

Chandigarh, July 24
General category employees of the Punjab State Cooperative Agricultural Development Bank have lodged a written protest against what they term wrong allocation of posts between the general category and the reserved category of employees.

The letter says two posts each of the Deputy General Manager, Manager and Assistant Manager have been wrongly given to the reserved category of employees. — TNS


Lineman electrocuted

Hoshiarpur, July 24
Lineman Harneet Singh, a son of Harjinder Singh, Dhamian Khurd, was electrocuted while he was repairing electric wires on the pole near Ghorewaha in this district on Saturday.

According to the police sources, a Junior Engineer, Mr Sukhwant Singh, who was booked, allegedly instructed Harneet Singh to repair some fault in the line. — OC


Work suffers as DSSO posts lie vacant
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 24
The Social Security Department of the Punjab Government is an important one as it provides pensions to lakhs of aged, widowed, dependent and disabled persons. But it seems that in the eyes of the state government, this department is of little value.

Seven posts of the District Social Security Officer (DSSO) have been lying vacant. Some DSSOs have been given additional charge of those districts where the posts are vacant. According to sources, the Bathinda DSSO has the additional charge of the Mansa district while the Ferozepur DSSO has also been performing the duties of the Muktsar DSSO. Likewise, the Faridkot DSSO has the additional charge of Moga district and the Hoshiarpur DSSO has been looking after the Gurdaspur district. Ludhiana DSSO and Mohali DSSO have the additional charge of Nawanshehar and Ropar districts respectively.

Work has been reportedly suffering in all these districts.


Raids on ration depots
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, July 24
The flying squad of the Food and Supplies Department, has suspended supply to 41 ration depots in Ferozepore district due to irregularities found in raids conducted in the past two days.

The squad had checked 42 ration depots and suspended supply to 41 depots due to the alleged black marketing of kerosene and foodgrains by certain depot holders with the alleged connivance of officials of the Food and Supplies Department. According to officials sources the supply has been suspended to five depots each in Fazilka, Abohar, Jalalabad and Makhu, seven in Ferozepore, six in Zira, four in Guruharsahai, three in Talwandi Bhai.

The raids have created panic amongst some depot holders and officials of the department.


Boy on way to market kidnapped
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Nangal, July 24
Amarjit Singh (15) was today kidnapped by an unidentified person in a red Maruti van from near Khawaja temple in Raj Nagar here. The boy hails from Dukli village 2 km from Nangal town. He was abducted when he along with his two younger sisters was on the way to purchase fertiliser from the market. The police registered a case of kidnapping this evening.

Sarvjit Kaur (10) a sister of the boy revealed that her mother Avtar Kaur, had given Rs 240 to Amarjit to purchase fertiliser. They left home at 10.30 am. Amarjit had a cycle and three of them, including sister Dhan Kaur (4) were approaching Khawaja temple when they were stopped by a clean-shaven man, who was driving a red Maruti van, she added

Before we could realise anything, the man came out and pushed Amarjit inside the van and sped away from the spot. There was only one man in the van who was driving the van himself. We raised the alarm but no one was near to help us. Thereafter we returned home and informed about the incident to mother, added Sarvjit Kaur.

Police sources said Amarjit had failed twice in class VIII and was admitted again in the school. The father of the boy Surinder Singh is a truck driver in Nalagarh. Surinder Singh did not have any dispute with anyone that could have led to kidnapping.

When contacted SSP, Kapil Dev, said we had registered a case of kidnapping in Nangal Police Station in this evening at 5 pm.


Doctor trying illegal abortion arrested
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 24
Dr Anjana Bindal, who was caught while allegedly trying to perform an illegal abortion, was today arrested by the Patiala police following a trap laid by the Patiala Civil Surgeon.

According to a press release issued by Mr V.S Mohi, Civil Surgeon, action was taken against Dr Bindal following a complaint received by his office from some people.

The Civil Surgeon constituted a team comprising Dr S.B Pandhi, District Immunisation Officer and Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, Officiating District family Welfare Officer, under his supervision.

Dr Mohi said Dr Navjot Sidhu was sent in as a decoy patient to Dr Bindal’s clinic located at Sullar road, near here. The decoy patient told Dr Bindal that she was pregnant and that she wanted an abortion.

Dr Bindal agreed and demanded Rs 1200 to perform abortion, following which Dr Navjot Sidhu gave her tainted notes and took her to an adjoining house, located near D.N memorial school.

According to Dr Mohi, Dr Bindal had violated the MTP Act of 1971 and thus earned herself legal action.


Truckers’ union chief held for fraud
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 24
The President of the Punjab Truck Operators Union, Mr Tarlochan Singh, was today arrested by the Ropar police in a case of embezzlement of Rs 10.79 lakh from the Truck Operators Cooperative Society Ropar.

He was remanded in judicial custody in a case under Sections 107 and 151 of the CrPC registered against him after he along with other truck operators threatened to stage a dharna outside the Ambuja Cement plant on July 20.

Mr Tarlochan Singh along with the president of a faction of the truck operators’ union, Ropar, Magar Singh who was already arrested in the embezzlement case was later produced in the district court and remanded in police custody till July 26.


Four held for beating up IGP’s brother
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 24
A brother of the Punjab IGP and OSD to the Bhaddal IET Chairman, Surinder Singh, was beaten up by four persons following an altercation after his vehicle collided with another vehicle yesterday.

He was admitted to the Civil Hospital here last evening and was referred to the PGI in Chandigarh today.

Members of his family got him admitted to a private hospital in Mohali.

The police arrested Jaswinder Singh, Baldev Singh, Mohan Singh and Surinder Singh for attempt to murder.

Surinder was on his way to Chandigarh in an Innova when it collided with an Indica near Bindrakhiya village.

Heated arguments ensued and the four accused beat Surinder up, causing serious injuries, including on his head.


2 murders in Majitha police district
Our correspondent

Amritsar, July 24
Tarsem Singh, a resident of Buttar Kalan falling under Majitha police district, was killed by his brother- in- law Mastan Singh of Cheema Khurd and his friend Kanwaljit Singh with a sharp- edged weapon.

According to information, Tarsem Singh had borrowed Rs 50,000 from Mastan Singh, which he refused to return. Agitated over this Tarsem had an altercation with Mastan Singh, which led to his death. The police has registered a case.

Meanwhile, Sukhjit Singh of Khushipur Kotla was killed by his friend Sharanjit Singh over a minor issue.


B.Ed Entrance Test results out
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
The Panjab University (PU) has declared the result of Joint B.Ed. Entrance Test-2006 conducted on July 15, 2006, for admission to the colleges of education, affiliated to the Panjab University, Chandigarh, Punjabi University, Patiala, and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.

The result is available on the university website: www.puchd.ac.in and is also available at Old Enquiry Office, Panjab University, Chandigarh from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on all working days.

The PU has also declared the result of Prabhakar and M.A. (Sociology) 4th semester examinations held in April/May 2006 and would be available on the university website www.puchd.ac.in after 3 pm on July 25, 2006.


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