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MSP hike rejected as too meagre
Amarinder wants Centre to revise it
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Cutting across party lines, the ruling Congress in Punjab and the Opposition Shiromani Akali Dal today refused to accept the Rs 10 hike in the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy. Various kisan unions also joined in the protest.

While the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said the hike was “too meager and inadequate”, the chief of the SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, termed it as the cruelest joke on the farmers. He said the Punjab Government was to blame.

The Union Cabinet had yesterday approved a hike of Rs 10 in the MSP for paddy. This means Rs 580 for the common and Rs 610 per quintal for the grade ‘A’ varieties. Punjab had sought a 25 per cent hike and demanded that the MSP be fixed at Rs 762 per quintal.

Today, the Chief Minister urged the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, to immediately revise the enhanced MSP for paddy by at least Rs 50 per quintal to compensate the farmers marginally who were already under distress as the revised MSP was far too less than their expectations.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the cost of agricultural inputs had risen by 122 per cent whereas the MSP was stagnating at 57 per cent over the past few years.

The Shiromani Akali Dal president today took the Central Government to task. In a statement here, Mr Badal held Capt Amarinder Singh squarely responsible for the nature of this rise, and said the Chief Minister of the country’s leading farming state had no time for using his clout with the ruling party at the level of the Central Government.

Mr Badal asked: “How many meetings did he hold with the Prime Minister, like I used to have with then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, to persuade him to announce a substantial hike in the MSP? How many times did he meet his party’s national president Sonia Gandhi to seek her intervention to help the farmers?

Even the Prime Minister had put Punjab on the back burner when it came to tackling the problem of farm indebtedness, said Mr Badal. He said the average annual increase in the MSP for paddy was just Rs 7.80 during the past five years, while the average was as high as Rs 40 during the SAD-BJP regime.

Mr Badal alleged that Dr Manmohan Singh had been visiting several states in a Centrally-sponsored plan to seek a solution to the problem of farm indebtedness but had blinked at the first opportunity to do anything meaningful for agriculture in Punjab.

Meanwhile, the Bharti Kisan Union termed the increase as a joke, and said this would ruin the farmers. Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal warned that the union would start an agitation in September on the issue.

Mr Prem Singh Bhangu of the All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha, while rejecting the hike, demanded that the Punjab Government should pay a bonus on its own. He said the government was ignoring the agricultural sector. Prof Balwant Singh of the CPM said the cost of diesel had risen manifold and the hike of Rs 10 was insignificant to cover the cost of production. This, he said , would mean more private companies buying the grain.

 

CM flags off first consignment
of fresh vegetables to UK
Perishable cargo centre inaugurated
Neeraj Bagga

Rajasansi, July 28
Describing it as the first step towards second green revolution Mr Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab inaugurated the temporary perishable cargo centre by flagging off the first consignment of two containers of fresh vegetables of FieldFresh Foods Private to the United Kingdom at the international airport here today.

He said changing international scenario and the WTO agreement had reduced the world to a global market. He said different weather conditions in European countries provided farmers here an opportunity to export vegetables and fruits.

He said several factors like immediate compulsions, changing international scene and latest trends made it inevitable to adopt the venture. On an average 70 per cent farmers owned less than four acres of land in the state and hoped that they would be able to increase their earnings by four times by switching over to vegetable farming.

Besides, it would help farmers to escape from the cycle of paddy and wheat crops, which led to the depletion of water table at an alarming rate.

Exporters will get 25 per cent subsidy on freight costs. Besides fresh fruit and vegetable, flowers, pharmaceuticals, meat and poultry products would benefit from the facility.

The temporary perishable cargo centre, built at a cost of Rs 2 crore, will benefit not only for despatching goods to international markets but also to domestic markets. The Central government has sanctioned Rs 18.5 crore for the construction of permanent perishable cargo centre, which would be four times bigger than the present one. Earlier, in the absence of this facility the exporters had to route their produce via Delhi.

The Centre has a pre-cool chamber, four large storage rooms, and an x-ray room with sophisticated x-ray machines for Customs purposes. The chambers could be set at different temperatures ranging between five degree celsius to 25 degree celsius depending on the requirement of the cargo. It has a capacity of 80,000 kg of perishable cargo while the permanent centre would have capacity of 200 tonnes.

FieldFresh Foods Private is an equal partnership venture between Bharti Enterprises and E L Ro Holdings India, an investment company of Rotschild. Mr Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Director, FieldFresh Foods and vice-chairman, Bharti Enterprises, said that the first consignment included okra, bitter gourd and chilli.

He urged the Punjab government to increase the duration of lease of farming land from 20 to 25 years. He said, it was a vital infrastructure that would link fields of Punjab with the worlds.

He said his company sourced fresh fruit and vegetables via collaborative farming and had brought over 4,000 acres under cultivation, primarily in Punjab.

He informed the company had set up the state-of-the-art FieldFresh Agri Centre of Excellence in Ladhowal, (Ludhiana). Spread over 300 acres, it would be an integrated research and development (R&D) facility focusing on crop and varietal trials, progressive farming techniques, identification and adoption of appropriate technologies. He claimed that it would be the biggest R&D facility in horticulture in the country.

 

CM suggests steps to manage waste
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The first meeting of the state Environment Council held here on Wednesday under the chairmanship of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, emphasised the need for evolving a multi-pronged strategy to tackle problems related to the mismanagement of solid waste and water pollution, excessive use of fertilisers and pesticides, mishandling of hazardous wastes and the burning of crop residue by farmers in the fields.

Showing concern over 5,500 million tonnes per day of solid waste being dumped indiscriminately, Capt Amarinder Singh asked the Local Government Department to identify adequate sites to dump the waste besides the setting up of waste-processing facilities.

The Chief Minister was informed that the unavailability of sufficient funds and technical manpower were creating a hindrance in the management of municipal solid waste that was mandatory under the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000, framed under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

Capt Amarinder Singh suggested that the five corporations of the state should be advised to enter into public- private partnership for the management of solid waste. He also advocated the setting up of units for the co-generation of power from solid waste in Amritsar and Jalandhar.

On the highest pesticide consumption of 922 gm per hectare (g/ha) in Punjab against India’s average of 570 g/ha, Capt Amarinder Singh said a study conducted by the PGI on the injudicious use of pesticides indicated that it was one of major causes of the increase in cancer cases in Giana and Jajjal villages of Talwandi Sabo. He asked Punjab Agricultural University and the state Department of Agriculture to launch a joint campaign to educate farmers in the safe use of pesticides.

 

Capt’s assurance on fake NRI marriages
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today assured a delegation from Canada that he would ask the Union Ministry for External Affairs to take up the matter of fraudulent matrimonial cases of Punjabi NRIs settled in Canada and elsewhere.

He said he would demand that an advisory be sent out to Indian High Commissioners to prepare a data of Punjabi NRIs so that such cases could be tackled effectively. A four-member delegation, led by the Canadian High Commissioner, Ms Lucie Edwards, had called upon the Chief Minister.

Capt Amarinder Singh asked Ms Lucie Edwards to supply data regarding “erring grooms and bridegrooms” settled in various parts of Canada, who had solemnised fake marriages just to defraud their spouses. This data would help the state administration to take stern action against them as per the law.

Responding to a request from Ms Lucie Edwards, the Chief Minister agreed to send a high-powered delegation, led by the Health and Family Welfare Minister and including members of NGOs and officials of the state Health Department, to participate in the World AIDS Conference to be held in Canada in August to take effective steps to curb the menace.

Ms Lucie Edwards was here on a courtesy call as her term expires shortly. She was accompanied by her husband, Mr Tom Roach, besides Donna Capper and Mr Gurbans Sobti, both from the Canadian Consulate, Chandigarh. 

 

PSEB raising Rs 2,000-cr loan for Shahpur project
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur July 28
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is in the process of raising Rs 2,000 crore loan from the Power Finance Corporation (PFC) for implementing the much delayed Shahpur kandi project. Mr Raman Bhalla member administration PSEB gave this information while talking to The Tribune here yesterday.

He said the mechanical and electrical part of the project would be completed by the PSEB while the construction of the civil part would be entrusted to the Irrigation Department. The PSEB would provide the funds required for the purpose to the Irrigation Department.

The work on the project is likely to start within the next two months. Besides the Shahpur Kandi project ,three power projects on the UBDC canal system have also been cleared. The power projects are projected to generate 50 MW power.

The tenders for the projects are being issued in soon, Mr Bhalla said. The Shahpur Kandi has been a much delayed hydro project of Punjab. It was a part of the design of the Ranjit Sagar dam. The main objective of the dam was to stop the water released due to peak hour generation at the Ranjit Sagar Dam and further release it slowly into UBDC canal system.

In the process the dam would also generate 168 MW hydro-power that could come as a relief to power- starved state like Punjab. According to estimate, the government was loosing Rs 1000 crore per annum in terms of power generation due to non construction of Shahpur kandi project. The government had got the project study of Shahpur kandi dam from the NHPC. The NHPC had pegged the construction cost of the Shahpur Kandi dam at Rs 2,600. This includes the taxes.

In the report, minor changes were recommended in the designs earlier created by the directorates of the Department of Irrigation. It has recommended changes in certain slopes. The depth of the dam has also been increased to some extent.

The amount of concrete to be used was proposed to be reduced. The designs of the Irrigation Department had recommended usage of 9 lakh cubic meter concrete in the dam.

The Punjab Government had hired the NHPC for preparing the DPR of the project about six month ago. The corporation was paid over Rs 1 crore for the preparing the report.

The submission of the report evoked criticism from the engineers posted at the dam. They alleged that in a DPR submitted by the officials of the department about a year ago they had pegged the cost of construction of the dam at Rs 1,400 crore. This included the infrastructure worth Rs 250 crore like colony, hospital and heavy machinery that was already available with the department.

They also questioned the logic in handing over the work of construction of the dam to other agencies when the department had about 8,000 labourers and officers sitting idle at the project.

Under pressure from various lobbies the government then decided to hand over the construction work of dam to the PSEB. 

 

Daughter of India’s most-wanted gets married today
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 28
Bikramjit Kaur, US-based daughter of Gajinder Singh, one of India’s 20 most-wanted terrorists currently living in Pakistan, will get married with Gurpreet Singh at Sikh Missionary Society, Southhall, England, tomorrow. Top Sikh radical leaders from all over the world, especially Europe, will attend the ceremony.

The Indian Embassy and intelligence authorities in the UK will be on high alert.

It is not clear whether Gajinder Singh, founder of the Dal Khalsa who had hijacked the Srinagar-bound Indian Airline’s Boeing 737 on September 29, 1981, nine days after the arrest of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale in Lala Jagat Narain murder case, will attend the ceremony.

He was awarded life imprisonment by a Pakistan court and was released in December, 1994. Ever since his release, Gajinder Singh has been taking shelter in Pakistan.

Despite his name figuring in India’s 20 most-wanted militants, Pakistan has denied his presence in the country. Though Gajinder Singh attempted to settle down in Germany, but he was refused entry in the country and deported to Pakistan.

However, intelligence authorities are of the view that there is all possibility that the Pakistan authorities will not allow Gajinder Singh to attend the marriage lest it (Pakistan) should get exposed for giving shelter to him.

On the other hand, the German authorities have refused travel documents to the wife of Gajinder Singh to attend the marriage of her only daughter.

She has taken refuge in Germany on health basis. In such a case, the marriage will be solemnised without the “blessings” of both parents.

An SGPC member, Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, has already left for the UK on behalf of the Dal Khalsa leaders in Punjab, who have been barred by the court to leave the country due to cases of sedition registered against them last year.

However, it is not yet known whether Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, who is currently on a religious tour to England, will attend the marriage or not.

When contacted, Mr Kanwarpal Singh, spokesman for the Dal Khalsa, said Jathedar Vedanti had not been invited to attend the marriage because he had lost faith of the community due to his controversial directives.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Bhai Mohkam Singh, spokesman for the Damdami Taksal, and Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, member of the SGPC, have sent written congratulations on the marriage of Bikramjit Kaur.

When Gajinder Singh had hijacked the plane to Pakistan, Bikramjit Kaur was only six months’ old. She could first meet her father after the hijacking at the age of six years in Kot Lakhpat Rai Jail in Pakistan where he was lodged.

 

Bhog of militants sends cops into a tizzy
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Central as well as state intelligence agencies have alerted the government authorities with regard to radical elements in Punjab. The top brass of the police has been informed how religious and other occasions are being used by these people for getting together.

Intelligence sleuths have pointed out specific examples of bhog ceremonies of top militants and have stated that the strength at such congregations has grown in the past two months, which is a cause for worry.

Members of militants’ families are being honoured at such functions, according to information available with the Punjab Police.

One such advertisement appeared today to announce the bhog ceremony of a militant who was killed 14 years ago. Sources said the information with regard to this had been sent to the authorities concerned. The field staff had been asked to keep an eye on the congregation, a senior functionary told The Tribune.

The instructions were that no seditious activity was to be permitted and a close watch be kept at such ceremonies, said the functionary, adding that as long as somebody was just conducting a religious ceremony and not rendering a speech that could be harmful for the unity of India, no action could be taken.

In the past few years, the bhog of slain militants was a discreet and a silent affair, mostly carried out by their families. The exceptions, among others, were advertisements issued to remember the assassins of Indira Gandhi and to remember Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and members of his immediate circle who were killed during Operation Bluestar.

During the past few months, advertisements — akin to those issued in the 80s and 90s — are being placed in a leading Punjabi daily printed from Jalandhar for bhog of several top militants.

The sources said it was after several years that formal announcements were being made to remember and honour a slain militant.

Such advertisements were common during the 80s and early 90s. The practice had waned during 1995-1996 and had almost stopped in the past few years.

Today’s advertisement has invited the Sikh sangat to come and honour Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala at his village in Moga district on Saturday. He was associated with the Khalistan Liberation Force.

The advertisement calls him a “general” of the “modern Sikh struggle”. It had been placed by Mr Simranjit Singh of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and by Mr Daljit Singh (Bittu), who has been recently released after spending years behind bars.

Sources in the Punjab Police said at least six bhog ceremonies had been conducted in the past few months and their growing number had caused worry. These include the bhog to remember “general” Labh Singh of the Khalistan Commando Force, Mathura Singh of Jandiala, Arpinder Singh Goldy of Bathinda and Ranjit Singh Dyalgarh from near Batala. In some cases, no advertisement was issued.

 

From constable to multi-millionaire
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur July 28
From constable to multi-millionaire non-resident Indian (NRI), it has been a long journey for a philanthropist, Mr Lajpat Rai Mungar. Despite having achieved what many can only dream of, he still has not forgotten his humble beginning.

While talking to The Tribune, Mr Mungar remembers how he took bribe in a murder case during his posting as a constable with the Punjab police at Nurpur Bedi police station. However, after severe reprimand from his spiritual guru, Swami Sarvanand Giri, he repented the act and never took or gave bribe again in his life.

Mr Mungar was borne in 1917 in Nangal Shaheedan village on the Nangal-Garhshankar road. He joined the Punjab police as a constable and was later promoted as ASI. However, in 1966 he migrated to the USA with his family and started farming there.

Today Mr Mungar owns 8000 acres in California. He is the second largest single producer of blue berry in the world.

He recently donated a Rs 20-crore building complex spread over 11 acres at Bajwara village on the Hoshiarpur-Una road to Panjab University. The university has opened its first regional centre in Hoshiarpur district in the complex.

The donated complex includes a hospital for which Mr Mungar would continue to give Rs 3 lakh per annum as recurring expenses. Mr Mungar said that initially he planned to run an information technology institute in the complex. The students were to undergo two years’ training in India, while another two-year training in the USA. However, the scenario changed after the 9/11 attack in the USA.

“Moreover, due to the red tape and corruption, I found myself incapable of running the institute on my own. So, I finally decided to hand over the complex to Panjab University for running a technical institute. Though Hoshiarpur has been a seat of learning since long, the institute would the first engineering centre, he said.

The only condition Mr Mungar placed before the university was that the centre be named after Swami Sarvanand Giri. As per his wish the centre has been named as Swami Sarvanand Giri Panjab University Regional Centre, Bajwara.

The university has already started admissions for the electronic, mechanical, computer and electrical engineering traits in the centre. The institute has eight classrooms with a capacity of 60 students each, eight tutorial rooms with a seating capacity of 25, 12 laboratories, 20 faculty rooms, three workshops, a library with 5,000 books, an auditorium, a canteen, an administrative block and two hostels enough to accommodate 120 students.

At 89, Mr Lajpat Rai Mungar still drives in own vehicle. He intends to live in his village and help uplift of poor people in the area.

 

Wildlife Act being violated?
Tribune News Service

Mukerian, July 28
The Punjab Government’s notification regarding the hunting of wild boars and blue bulls is being used in violation of Wild Life Preservation Act. As per the Act the hunted or culled wild animals are a state property.

People who are issued licence for hunting have to deposit the animal with the Wild Life Department that has to bury it appropriately.

However, here hunting permits are being issued but till date no animal has been deposited with the Wild Life Department.

Recently SDM, Mukerian, issued a permit for hunting four wild boars to the head of the Ahmadiyya sect at Qadian in Gurdaspur, Mr Mirza Wasim Ahmad. The animals were to be hunted in Sandhani village in the Talwara area bordering Himachal.

The permits were issued on a frivolous resolution adopted by the Sandhani panchayat. In a resolution, a copy of which is available with The Tribune, the panchayat had stated that there were 500 wild boars in their village which were posing threat to life and property of the villagers.

As per the census carried out by the Department of Wild Life that are less than 2,000 wild boars in the entire Dasuya forest range. The Dasuya forest range has hundreds of villages. Strangely as per the resolution 25 per cent of the wild boars of range seem to have gathered in a single village.

Moreover, the authorities concerned did not take the opinion of the department to authenticate what was claimed by the village panchayat allegedly under the influence of some influential persons were getting the permits.

The DFO, Wild Life, Hoshiarpur, Mr Sunil Kumar, when contacted said they had no information regarding the permits issued for hunting.

Sources in the area told The Tribune that many animals were killed in the garb of hunting permits and taken away by the poachers. None of killed animals was deposited with the department as per the provisions of the Act.

Mr Mirza Wasim Ahmad who was issued the permits for killing four wild boars was not available for comments.

His spokesman, who answered the queries on his behalf, while admitting that the religious head had got the permit for hunting wild boars said no animal was hunted. He said during the past three months Mr Mirza Wasim Ahmad had remained out of station. He had not used the permit to kill the animals as he had left hunting.

 

Amarinder’s ‘baraat’ taken out
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 28
The youth wing of the BJP today took out a “baraat” (marriage procession) of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to highlight miseries of the public. However, most of the participants were aged above 35.

The organisers ignored that the cremation of senior party worker Lal Chand Beri, father-in-law of Ms Sunita Beri, senior vice-president of the BJP Mahila Morcha, Punjab, was being held at the main cremation grounds here at the same time. He had died late last evening.

Senior party workers issued condolence messages but opt not to postpone the “baraat.” An effigy of Capt Amarinder Singh with bridal costumes was taken on a donkey as the brass band masters played marriage tunes.

Four other donkeys, named after senior members of the Punjab Cabinet, were also included in the procession to express resentment over increasing prices, failure in providing supplies under the public distribution system besides other grievances.

The “baraatis” were carrying placards with slogans “Congress ayee, mehngai layee,” “Sonia jis ki mummy hai, woh sarkar nikkammi hai,” etc.

The procession started from Geeta Mandir and terminated at Sadar Bazaar after setting the effigy of the “bridegroom” on fire.

Dr Ram Kumar Goyal, former MLA, was among the participants.

 

Truckers’ rally turns into political battlefield
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 28
Tension prevailed for about two hours here after heated arguments were exchanged between SAD (A) president Simranjit Singh Mann and members of a group led by SAD (B) patron Sant Ajit Singh when the SAD (B) workers prevented Mr Mann to address the gathering at a dharna jointly staged by them to press their demand to get release 28 truck operators in different cases.

The leaders of both groups gathered to extend support to truck operators, who were protesting the arrest of their union leaders following their protest against Gujarat Ambuja cement plant here.

A large number of police personnel were deployed to control the situation since morning. Earlier, the workers of SAD (B) carried a rally through the city and gathered outside the Mini Secretariat to stage a dharna where they were joined by SAD (A) workers led by Mr Mann.

The dharna soon turned out to be a battleground for both parties. The workers raised slogans in favour of their respective leaders forgetting the real issue of truck operators. Both groups tried to prove their strength, but the situation aggravated when leaders of the both groups started addressing the workers.

When all efforts to pacify the situation went in vain, the SAD (B) workers along with Sant Ajit Singh left the venue and submitted a memorandum demanding the release of truck operators to the Additional Deputy Commissioner. While Mr Mann along with his supporters remained adamant there and addressed his supporters.

Later, addressing a press conference, Sant Ajit Singh alleged that Mr Mann in connivance with the Congress party came here to disrupt their agitation. He said the SAD (B) would decide on the next course of action after the protest of All-India Truck Operators Union in New Delhi on August 3 to get release the truck operators.

While Mr Mann said their workers resorted to protest when he was not given time to address the gathering. “Our party workers would participate in the dharna to be held in New Delhi on August 3 in support of the truck operators, who are with us and not with the SAD (B),” he added. 

 

‘The Midair Frown’ raises Mann’s hackles
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Rejecting outright what he described as a thesis built around the Kanishka tragedy by Iqbal Ramoowalia in his latest novel “The Midair Frown”, the president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, said today that Sikhs were not involved in that dastardly act in any manner.

The two Sikhs accused in this most dastardly act had been acquitted by the highest Canadian court. That should once and for all set to rest the thinking of the “perverted souls” that the tragedy was the handiwork of Sikhs who sought revenge for the Indian Army’s action in Darbar Sahib in 1984, said Mr Mann.

The Delhi-bound Air-India Boeing flight “Kanishka” from Canada was bombed midair on June 23, 1985, and it had led to the killing of 329 passengers on board.

Iqbal Ramoowalia has authored a novel regarding this tragedy, linking it with the Khalistan movement and militancy that spilled over to Canada from Punjab in the 80s and 90s.

Mr Mann said he was personally hit by the Kanishka tragedy because the co-pilot, Capt Satwinder Singh Bhinder, on that flight was his personal family friend. “It has always been my desire and inner wish to have this Kanishka mystery unfolded and the truth known, not only for my moral and human satisfaction but also for the solace and comfort of those who lost their dear ones,” Mr Mann said.

Mr Mann said the Canadian Government, in deference to the victims’ wishes, after the honourable acquittal of two Sikhs, had ordered another judicial inquiry, under known Canadian jurist John Major. He said it was in the knowledge of the Canadian Government, its secret services and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that the Indian High Commission in Ottawa and its consulate in Toronto were overactive after 1984 through Indian intelligence agencies posted at these places to find Sikhs who could do something “dramatic”.

Mr Mann said the Canadian Government was tapping all telephone and other communication traffic emanating from various Indian sources active in Canada. The question for the Major Commission was to probe these conversations. Mr Mann said the commission should also find out why two Indian High Commission officials, who were booked and scheduled to fly the ill-fated flight, cancelled their tickets at the last moment.

He said, in fact, the Manmohan Singh government should invite the Major Commission to India to question officials who were posted in Canada and involved in intelligence gathering there. Mr Mann said he was collecting facts about the tragedy and wished to present these before the Major Commission in Canada but the Union Government had again “impounded” his passport”. Mr Mann said the truth would ultimately prevail and no one would be able to dub any Sikh a terrorist.

 

Protests over killing of teenager
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 28
Hundreds of residents of Dharam Nagari and Panjpeer colony today sat on dharna inside the Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital for more than two hours refusing to accept the body of Gurpreet Singh (15) from the mortuary.

Gurpreet, a student of local sewing and stitching centre, was found dead near the sub-divisional complex yesterday morning. The body bore multiple injuries inflicted with a sharp-edged weapon besides signs of brutal beating.

As residents of the locality on the outskirts of the town had already suffered over similar cases of kidnapping and killing of children, they were up in arms against the police and the district administration.

The residents thronged the Civil Hospital and sat on dharna. They shouted slogans against the police and held a rally. Representatives of the BKU, TSU, Krantikari Sabha and other organisations condemned the killing of the teenager.

SP Harjinder Singh and SDM Jaskiran Singh while trying to pacify the protesters assured that the culprits would be arrested soon.

The body was later taken to the cremation ground in police ambulance. The residents marched to the cremation ground in a procession shouting slogans against the administration.

 

Singla to examine service-provider system
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The Cabinet Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, who took charge of the Health and Family Welfare portfolio today, has directed the authorities concerned to give him feedback immediately with regard to the performance of service providers appointed to provide health services in the rural areas.

Mr Singla, who held a meeting with top officials of the Health Department, said he would hold meetings with the service providers next week. " I will personally assess what kind of problems the service providers are facing and whether people in the villages concerned are satisfied with the new model of health services", said Mr Singla.

He asked the Health Secretary, Mr Darbara Singh Guru, to examine whether the number of service providers could be doubled from the existing 1,300 to give people more access to the health service delivery system.

Mr Singla said he favoured at least one service provider for a cluster of five villages. At present the number of villages covered by a service provider is 10 or more.

" My immediate focus will be to strengthen the health services in the rural areas where people depend almost solely on government doctors and dispensaries", said Mr Singla. He told Mr Guru to prepare a proposal for buying 19 vans and loading these with the required medical equipment and providing a team of doctors. He said such vans would move from one village to another. One block each in the 19 districts would be covered through these vans.

Mr Singla sought a list of medical equipment lying unused at various hospitals." I have asked for details with regard to the use and non-use of medical equipment in all civil hospitals in the state", said Mr Singla.

He said there would be no interference in the working of medical officers and they would be given enough opportunity to deliver health services to the needy. Those who failed to " live up to my expectations will be asked to make way for others". The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, wanted drastic changes in the health services and arranging funds for the purpose would be no problem.

 

AIR Amritsar awaits Centre’s nod
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 28
In the absence of a local radio station, the people here are forced to listen to Lahore radio which has been vociferous in its campaign for spreading vicious propaganda against India.

Though a high tower and high-powered radio and TV stations for Amritsar was sanctioned by the then Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ms Sushma Swaraj after her visit to the city in November 2001, during the bicentennial anniversary of the Coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. But this project which is a part of the 10th Five Year Plan never saw the light of the day as Ms Swaraj was soon replaced by Information and Broadcasting Minister Mr Ravi Shanker Prasad.

Mr Harjap Singh Aujla, a veteran journalist and presently living in the USA, in a missive to Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, had urged that Amritsar could be an ideal and low cost short-wave and medium-wave propagation outlet for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

While giving brief history of the AIR, Amritsar to the TNS on e-mail here today Mr Aujla said after the 1962 war with China, the Government of India and Sardar Partap Singh Kairon took notice of the effectiveness of anti-India propaganda from Radio Pakistan Lahore. He said in order to effectively counter it, the Government of India decided to open a radio station in Amritsar, which could be local in Lahore. But as the war broke out in 1965 with Pakistan the transmitter meant for AIR Amritsar, after its arrival in Amritsar, was removed from Amritsar and brought to Jalandhar.

 

Barnala MC library in bad shape
Kamlesh Sharma
Our Correspondent

Barnala, July 28
The only library of the Barnala Municipal Committee is housed in a building declared unsafe by the PWD long ago. The municipal authorities, however, are yet to wake up to reality and take any remedial steps in this regard. The visitors to the library find it hard to deal with unhygienic conditions.

The library is confined to a single room attached with a record room. But the roof as well as side walls are in very bad condition.

The monsoon season has added to the woes of the readers as the roof of the library has started leaking at various points. For the past many years no steps have been taken to stop these leakages.

The loose electrical wires in the library are another cause of concern for the visitors. The record room, meant for storing newspaper records is in a dilapidated condition because of the leakages in the roof.

The municipal committee has an annual budget of Rs 10 crore but there is no allocation of funds for the library.

According to sources the Barnala Municipal Committee is not ready to revamp the library building as the site is in heart of the town.

Ms Sushil Kumari who has been managing the affairs over past four years admits that the atmosphere here is not fit for readers and needs immediate attention.

Mr K.S.Brar, executive officer, when contacted, admitted to the bad condition of the library. He said that he had already raised the matter with the SDM. He said that the library will be shifted to a safe and hygienic building in near future.

 

Holiday in Sangrur dist on July 31
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 28
On the occasion of martyrdom day of Shaheed Udham Singh, Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, today announced a local holiday on July 31 in Sangrur district. The holiday has been announced by the Deputy Commissioner under Section 25 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.

On July 31 a state-level function to commemorate the 67th martyrdom day of Shaheed Udham Singh will be held at Sunam Udham Singh Wala. The function will be presided over by the CM. 

 

Bank men stage rally
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 28
On a call of nation-wide strike, employees of local banks held rally near Ram Lila ground in support their demands here. The Zonal Secretary of the Punjab Bank Employees Federation, Mr Vijay Sharma, said: “We have been protesting against the outsourcing reduction in autonomy of banks, demand of pension for bank employees and for filling 1 lakh posts lying vacant in the banks in all over the country”.

Fatehgarh Sahib: On the call of the All-India Bank Employees Association, employees of nationalised banks in the district today observed a complete strike.

A rally was held in front of the State Bank of Patiala in Sirhind.

Addressing the rally, Mr Varinder Takyar, Regional Secretary, State Bank of Patiala Employees Federation, said outsourcing should be immediately stopped and appointments on compensate grounds should be made in banks.

Patiala: On a call given by the All-India Bank Employees Association, the All -India Bank Officers Association and the Bank Employees Federation of India and employees of different banks today observed full day strike and paralysed their operations.

A rally of bank employees was also held in front of the State Bank of Patiala, Head Office, here and a galaxy of unions leaders addressed it.

According to a press note, their demands were withdrawal of RBI circular on outsourcing of banking services, withdrawal of RBI decision on outsourcing the clearing operations, withdrawal of amendment of Section 12 (2) of the Bank Regulations Act of removal of ceiling on voting rights in banks, filling of nearly one lakh vacancies and expeditious extensions of one more option for pension. 

 

Tohra’s widow falls ill
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 28
Bibi Joginder Kaur Tohra, widow of former SGPC chief late Gurcharan Singh Tohra, was taken seriously ill late last evening. She was admitted to the ICU unit of the Government Rajindra Hospital.

According to doctors, Bibi Joginder Kaur complained of acute breathing problems and chest pain, following which doctors got her admitted to the hospital. She was brought from her native place in Tohra village, near here, by the wife of Mr Satwinder Singh Tohra, the village sarpanch.

A lot of Tohra loyalists gathered at the hospital throughout the day, but they were not allowed to meet Bibi Joginder Kaur.

Ms Kuldeep Kaur, wife of former minister Harmail Singh and son-in-law of G.S Tohra rushed to the hospital after hearing the news.

 

Sanchar nigam staff hold demonstration
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, July 28
Members of the Sanchar Nigam Executive Association yesterday held a demonstration here in support of their demands.

According to a press note issued today, the main demands of the association include no disinvestment in the BSNL and MTNL, no sharing of the BSNL/MTNL infrastructure with private operators, grant of autonomy to the BSNL, expansion of broadband and mobile services and immediate settlement of the ITS absorption issue.

Prominent among those who spoke were Mr RK Sharma, Mr Sadiq Ahmed, Mr OP Mishra and Mr GS Bajwa.

 

Memo submitted
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 28
A large number of employees of PSEB technical services of the district today staged protest carrying black flag against the member of distribution of the PSEB, J.S. Sekhon, outside the canal rest house here demanding withdrawal of the Electricity Act 2003.

The Convener of the joint action committee, Mr Gurdial Singh, later submitted a memorandum to Mr Sekhon.

 

CM to inaugurate Morinda bypass

Ropar, July 28
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, will inaugurate the Morinda bypass built at a cost of Rs 42.19 crore on August 1, said the Tourism and Animal Husbandry Minister, Jagmohan Kang, here today. He said the government planned a master plan for the development of Chamkaur Sahib sub-division. TNS

 

Drug smuggler arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 28
The special narcotic cell, Punjab, yesterday arrested a key member of an inter-state drug mafia gang, Tarlok Singh, alias ‘T’ uncle, a resident of Rajouri Garden, Delhi.

The narcotic cell achieved major breakthrough following a tip-off that Tarlok Singh was in the city on a mission for effecting a deal here. The cell seized 100 gm of heroin from his possession. According to the information provided by the cell, it had deputed a special team to unearth the network of Tarlok Singh and Ramesh Kumar, notorious smugglers.

According to the preliminary investigation, Tarlok Singh was working with a gang of Indo-Pakistan smugglers led by its kingpin, Ramesh Kumar, currently lodged at Tihar Jail. He revealed that Ramesh was smoothly operating from Tihar Jail through his module comprising of a cross-border network of smugglers and peddlers in New Delhi.

 

Body of minor found from shrubs
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 28
The body of Gurpreet Singh alias Gopi was found from shrubs near the boundary wall inside the sub-divisional administrative and courts complex here yesterday.

Sources said Gopi (15) yesterday morning left his house in street 5 of Dharam Nagari near the Panji desert heaps, epic centre for training in tailoring at a shop run by Ramesh Kumar. He was found neither at the training centre nor returned to his home.

Today workers of the sub-divisional complex found the blood-stained body in shrubs inside the complex. Male organ of the boy was found cut. 

 

2 more arrested for assaulting Principal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 28
The police have arrested two more persons accused in the case pertaining to the assault on Mohindra college Principal, Mr D.I.S. Brar.

According to DSP Anil Kumar Sharma, the two accused who have been arrested are Jagdeep Singh alias Jagga boxer and Jasdeep Singh alias Deepan. He said that both of them were nabbed near Lahori gate yesterday when they allegedly fired at a boy Ashu.

He added that a countrymade revolver was seized from their possession. Both accused admitted to their involvement in the attack on the college Principal.

Cases under Section 307 and the Arms act have been made out against both the accused at the Kotwali police station here today.

Meanwhile, the Joint Action Committee, comprising students and staff organised a dharna for two periods and wore black badges to protest against the attack on the Principal.

In a press release, signed by Prof Ranjit Singh Bhullar and Mr K.S. Khullar, representatives of the Committee, it was stated that “the apathetic attitude of the district administration and the state government in not apprehending the culprits was resented”.

The members resolved to continue their protest till all culprits involved in the attack were arrested.

 

Gang of robbers busted, 2 arrested
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, July 28
A Phillaur police team, headed by DSP Gursharandeep Singh Grewal, nabbed two members of a gang of robbers and seized Rs 78,000,180 gm of gold ornaments and $3000 from them last night.

Noormahal SHO Satinder Chadha told newsmen here today that the arrested robbers were identified as Davinder Singh and Sonu Kumar of Jamshed village, while their third accomplice, as Sukhdeep Singh, was still at large.

He said the robbers struck at the house of a UK-based NRI woman, Mrs Pritam Kaur, on the night of July 21 at Zandiala Manjki and robbed $6500, Rs 1.5 lakh and 220 gm of gold ornaments.

 

Transformer stolen
Tribune News Service

Lalru, July 28
A 25-KV transformer has been stolen from the Lalru area. The Additional Superintending Engineer of the Lalru Division, in his complaint to the police, alleged that the transformer was stolen from Habatpur village, near here.

A case has been registered.

 

Counselling for BEd colleges from August 10
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Counselling for colleges of education in Punjab will begin from August 10. A decision to this effect was taken today evening by officials of the Punjab government. In an effort to streamline the admission procedure 30 principals of various colleges of education (B.Ed./B.Ed. (Yoga) held a meeting at Panjab University to discuss various paprameters for the centralized admissions to be conducted next month for the various colleges of education of the three Universities viz. Panjab University, Chandigarh; Punjabi University, Patiala and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.

Various changes were finalised for this year's counselling. It has been decided that for the first four days of the counselling around 800 students will be called in the B.Ed. Counselling Hall everyday .On the fifth day 700 candidates will be called. The counselling will begin at 8.30 a.m.

The selected candidates have to submit the college dues and admission fee at the allotted college within two days of admission; otherwise the seat will be declared as vacant. Shifting would be allowed only in the second counselling.

The counselling results will be computerized. The university also plans to have three LCD screens, each would display the updated status of seats in the three universities along with the available combination . In a major shift from last year it was also decided that only counseling would be done at PU, students will have to go to the respective colleges for the final admission and payment of fees.

The meeting was addressed by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. R.C. Sobti and Chaired by Prof. Veer Singh, Dean University Instruction, Panjab University. 

 

Inculcate reading habits, students told
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 28
The Rotary Club, Fatehgarh Sahib, on Thursday organised a lecture for students of Government Elementary School, Saidpura.

Prof Achhru Singh, a former Head of the Department of English, Nehru Memorial Government College, Mansa, delivered the lecture.

Addressing the students, Prof Achhru Singh exhorted them to adopt a positive and optimistic attitude in life. He said as far as mental ability was concerned they were in no way inferior from their contemporaries studying in convent and public schools.

Narrating his own life story, he said he belonged to an illiterate and economically weaker family but had become a successful teacher of English by dint of his high aspirations, persistent labour, commitment and self-confidence. He also emphasised the need for learning English in the fast changing global scenario.

He urged the teachers to put in not only extra labour but also their souls in their teachings in order to enable the students of rural schools to compete with urban students.

Dr Dharminder Singh Ubha, president of the club, said the students must inculcate reading habits from the early stage of life in order to grow as intelligent and knowledgeable persons. He emphasised the need to establish good libraries in the rural schools.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Jaggi, district governor elect, Prof. Gurdarshan Singh, project chairman and Prof Jagjit Singh, club secretary, also spoke on the occasion. 

 

Swami Parmanand College gets more seats

Lalru, July 28
The All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has sanctioned 30 seats each to two courses run by the Swami Parmanand College of Engineering at Jaula Kalan, near here.

Mr Inderjit Bajaj, college chairman, informed that the AICTE had sanctioned 30 more seats in the electronics and communication engineering and computer science and engineering courses. Earlier, the college had 60 seats each in all four courses. With the increased seats, the total number of seats in the college would go up to 300.

Mr Bajaj claimed that the college was awarding Rs 5,000 year to the students seeking admission with over 80 per cent marks. The college Principal, Dr JK Sharma, highlighted the achievements of the college. TNS

 


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