P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Smoking in schools, colleges raises govt’s hackles
Now, Principals can act against violators
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
There is some bad news for students who smoke. Now, principals and headmasters have been empowered to fine erring students found smoking in a college or school premises.

The Punjab Government has issued a notification empowering all principals, headmasters or headmistresses, and other heads of educational institutions in the state, to take cognisance of violations under Sections 12, 25 and 28 of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products( Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.

Mr Darbara Singh Guru, Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, told The Tribune today that besides principals and headmasters, all executive magistrates, all heads of departments, all assistant labour commissioners, commissioners, executive officers of municipal corporations and Municipal Councils had also been empowered to take cognisance of violation of the Act.

Under the provisions of the Act, on finding any one violating the ban for the second time, these officers can also send the offender to jail. Smoking at all public places is banned under the Act.

No one is allowed to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products within 100-m radius of any educational institution. And no one can sell cigarettes, gutka etc to a person less than 18 years of age.

Action can be taken against the seller too. And no billboard advertising the smoking and chewing of tobacco products can be installed near educational institutions.

Mr Darbara Singh said earlier the power to take action against violators of the Act was vested with the police. However, by the time the police used to arrive, the offender escaped by putting off the cigarette or throwing away the chewing stuff.

It is easy for headmasters, principals, heads of departments and others who have been empowered by the government to ensure the implementation of the Act, he said.


Takht directive divides Hong Kong Sangat
Resentment among Sindhis
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 12
The directive of the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, to the Sikh Sangat of Hong Kong has created a division between a section of Sikhs and Sindhis over the installation of Guru Granth Sahib in the Sindhi temple there.

The directive of Jathedar Vedanti to Maharaj Ganesh L. Sharma, president, Hong Kong Temple, Kowloon (Hong Kong) to take Guru Granth Sahib to Khalsa Diwan (Sikh temple), Hong Kong as per Sikh Maryada has brought the Sindhis and a section of Sikhs at loggerheads.

The Sindhis, who are great followers of Guru Nanak Dev, install the holy Guru Granth Sahib in the places of their worship. Earlier, no objection had been raised on this issue though the Sindhis had installed Guru Granth Sahib in the their places of worship all over the world, especially in Pakistan and India (outside Punjab).

Mr Gulbir Singh Batra and Mr Kanwaljeet Singh Dhillon, residents of Hong Kong, said Guru Granth Sahib was installed in Kowloon Temple for the past four decades.

They said nobody had ever raised any objection over installation of Guru Granth Sahib since the Sindhis revered Guru Granth Sahib and had full faith in Sikh Gurus . In a missive to the SGPC chief, they pleaded for a way out so that the feelings of Sindhis could be respected.

When contacted, Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu, personal assistant to Jathedar Vedanti, said the directive to the president of the Hong Kong temple was issued as per Sikh Maryada.

However, the situation in Hong Kong has already taken an ugly turn, and may have a fallout in other countries where Sindhis have installed Guru Granth Sahib in their places of worship.

The two warring groups, one pro-Sindhi, had heated discussions in the gurdwara of Hong Kong last week which is described as a lull before the storm. The police was also called to the gurdwara. However, the situation was saved from turning volatile with the intervention of some well meaning persons.

It is learnt that some Sikhs from Hong Kong, too, are not in favour of removing Guru Granth Sahib from the temple since they feel that Sindhis were great followers of Guru Granth Sahib.

So much so the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee got the translation of Guru Granth Sahib done into Sindhi language and made special efforts to send the same to Pakistan and other parts of the world on demand.

However, a section of Sikhs have served a notice on the temple committee to implement the directive of Jathedar of Akal Takht otherwise they themselves would bring Guru Granth Sahib to the gurdwara as per Sikh Maryada by August 13.

Mr Batra and Mr Dhillon also urged the Akal Takht Jathedar to save the situation from turning worse by finding some amicable solution.

The Sindhis and Sikhs have been enjoying good relations in Hong Kong. The Sindhis also celebrate the Gurpurb of Guru Nanak Dev every year with great fervour.


M.S. Gill blames Centre for farmer-arhtiya row
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
Describing the tension building up between farmers and Arhtiyas (commission agents), regarding bonus dues, a volatile issue, Mr M.S. Gill, Member of Rajya Sabha from Punjab and former Union Agriculture Secretary, today said the Union Food and Agriculture Ministry should immediately intervene to resolve the matter at the earliest.

Farmers, who had sold wheat to private traders through commission agents, are urging the agents to get them their dues paid either from the state government or from traders.

On April 21, the Union Government had announced Rs 50 per quintal as the bonus on wheat over and above its minimum support price (MSP) which was Rs 650. But the bonus was admissible on the wheat procured by the government agencies only.

Mr Gill said the issue could go out of hand as farmers were feeling cheated, adding that the Union Food and Agriculture Ministry was responsible for creating such a situation in Punjab.

“Had the Union Food and Agriculture Ministry announced the bonus before the beginning of procurement of wheat on April 1, farmers would have never sold wheat to private traders,” asserted Mr Gill.

Delay in announcing the bonus on wheat by the ministry made farmers sell their wheat to private traders who purchased the wheat by paying farmers a little more than that of MSP.

Referring to The Tribune report in this regard, Mr Gill said same could happen in the case of paddy. Farmers were not satisfied with the MSP for paddy recently announced by the Union Government.

It should be increased before the beginning of procurement in September, he added.

Coming back to the bonus, Mr Gill said the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, should personally intervene to dispense justice to farmers who suffered losses because of mishandling of the issue of price of wheat.

He added that issue of giving concessions to industry in Himachal Pradesh by the Union Government was equally important.


Travel agent dupes 12 youths
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 12
Twelve youths of the Jandiala Guru and adjoining villages have appealed to the Deputy Inspector General of Police to register a case against a travel agency of Jandiala Guru, who duped them of Rs 2.75 lakh each on the pretext of providing them jobs in Singapore, Hong Kong and China.

They have urged the police official to book Malkit Singh, who ran the agency, his brother Gurmit Singh, their sister Gurpreet Kaur Rimmi and brother-in-law Surjit Singh and Malkit’s brother-in-law Sewak Singh

Mr Ranjit Singh of Dabourji alleged that his parents sold all their agricultural land to send him abroad. However, their dreams were shattered after he returned empty handed defrauded at the hands of the travel agent.

He said he was lodged in different hotels in Singapore. The agent and his kin kept him shifting from one place to another. Their modus operandi was that they had their touts in that country who kept them in illegal confinement there so that the agent could extract money from his parents.

He had been forced to starve for many days together. They would give him food only when their parents hand over some money to them, he alleged.

Mr Bikramjit Singh of the same area said the travel agent took Rs 2.75 lakh from him to send him to Singapore. The agent repeatedly telephoned his parents that they would arrange a job for their son in Singapore, but he, too, returned empty-handed.

Mr Surinder Singh, one of the victims, said he had been kept in illegal confinement abroad for nine months. His parents had to dispose off their agricultural land to arrange for his return to India. He alleged that the agent had around 600 persons of the district.


Agitators to hold ‘chakka jam’
Seek clemency for 3 members of Kiranjit katal virodhi panel
Tribune News Service

Mehal Kalan (Barnala), August 12
The Sanghrash Committee, Punjab, today announced that if the state government did not cancel the life imprisonment awarded to three members of the Kiranjit Katal Kand Virodhi Action Committee namely Prem Kumar, Narayan Dutt and Manjit Singh Dhaner and release them unconditionally by August 25, then it along with 18 organisations would hold a “chakka jam” on August 30 across the state.

In the next phase of their action programme thousands of women would lay siege to the Punjab Civil Secretariat at Chandigarh in the last week of September.

The action programme was announced at a “shardhanjali samaroh”, organised here in memory of Kiranjit Kaur, a plus two student of this village, who was abducted, gang-raped and murdered nine years ago.

Kiranjit Kaur, a daughter of physically challenged teacher Darshan Singh, was abducted from the village on July 29,1997, while she was returning from her college. Her body was exhumed from a field in the village some days later.

In the Kiranjit murder case, the Barnala Sessions Court had awarded life imprisonment to the accused. Later, in a case of murder of Dalip Singh, a member of the family of the accused, the Barnala Sessions Judge on March 30, 2005, awarded life imprisonment to Prem Kumar, Narayan Dutt, Manjit Singh Dhaner and some others.

Dalip Singh was attacked on March 3, 2001, on the Barnala Courts complex by some persons. He succumbed to injuries in a Ludhiana hospital.


Sarabjit alleges torture by Pak authorities

Amritsar, August 12
Sarabjit Singh, the condemned Indian prisoner who is facing the gallows in Pakistan, has alleged that he was being “meted inhuman treatment in jail”.

“I am being denied even my basic rights, which are due to any prisoner,” he said in a letter written to his sister Dalbir Kaur from Kot Lakhpat jail near Lahore.

The letter in Punjabi and dated July 19, was delivered to Ms Dalbir Kaur at her residence here today.

While alleging that he was being tortured both mentally as well as physically, Sarabjit claimed that even basic facilities were being denied to him. “The behaviour of the jail staff, even the lowest rung, is insulting”, he alleged.

Through the letter, the prisoner has asked his sister to approach Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and seek his intervention. Referring to the “good relations” between Capt Singh and his West Punjab (Pakistan) Chief Minister Pervez Elahi, Sarabjit has appealed to Capt Singh to use his influence “to halt his humiliation at the hands of the prison staff”. — UNI


Brar’s supporters appear before disciplinary panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
Some supporters of senior Congress leader Jagmeet Singh Brar appeared before the disciplinary committee (DC) of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee here today.

Among those who appeared before the DC, headed by Mr G.K. Chathrath, were Mr Ripjit Singh Brar, Mr Tara Singh Sandhu, Mr Vijay Sathi, Mr Kulbir Singh and Mr Harry Mann.

Informed sources said Mr Ripjit Singh Brar and others told Mr Chathrath that they were loyal soldiers of the party and had no intention to violate its discipline in any manner. And that they had no intention to harm the party in any way.

Admitting that they had made statements before media, they told the members of the DC that they were not aware that it was a violation of party discipline.

However, they informed the committee that they would not repeat it in future.

Taking a serious note of statements made by supporters of Mr Jagmeet Brar, criticising the function of Capt Amarinder Singh Government, the party had initiated disciplinary proceedings against them.

After hearing them today, it appeared that the disciplinary committee would let them off after giving them a mild warning.

Next meeting of the disciplinary committee would be held on August 18 to take a final decision in this regard.

Sources said two Ministers — Mr Surinder Singla and Mr Partap Singh Bajwa — and one Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, had also been called to appear before it on August 18.

Disciplinary proceedings were also initiated against them for speaking to media on party issues and thus violating the party discipline.

Sources said the disciplinary committee would consult the PPCC president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, over its verdict.

Disciplinary committee’s members wanted that verdict with regard to Mr Jagmeet Brar’s supporters and the ministers should be announced on the same day.

It appears that effort on the party leadership will be to close this issue which has already paled into background.

At this stage, when Assembly elections are only four months away, the party could not afford to see party leaders washing dirty linen in public.


Badal woos Dalits with big promises
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 12
With an eye on the coming Assembly elections in the state, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today organised the “Dalit Chetna” rally here today.

The rally saw virtually a sea of people thronging the venue. Mr Prakash Singh Badal, president of the SAD, along with a galaxy of senior Akali-BJP leaders, addressed the rally. They left no stone unturned to dent the traditional Congress vote bank by doling out huge promises for the welfare of Dalits, who were present at the rally in big numbers.

Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Ms Paramjit Kaur Gulshan and Mr Zora Singh Mann, both MPs, Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Mr Surjit Jiyani, both former Cabinet ministers, Mr Sukhpal Singh Nannu, Mr Hari Singh Zira, both MLAs, Mr Gurdas Badal, Mr Gurdev Badal, Mr Ram Kumar Goyal, Mr Munavar Masih were among the leaders who addressed the rally.

Mr Badal said if voted back to power, his party would provide free electricity, education and 5-marla pieces of land to all Dalit families in the state. The pension amount would be doubled to Rs 400.

Continuing with the series of promises, Mr Badal promised to provide free potable water and generous sanction of grants for construction of toilets for all Dalit families.

Mr Badal said a special fund would be created to provide healthcare to Dalits.

He also assured employment to one member of all Dalit families. He announced that the Christian community would be provided all benefits on a par with the SC/ST community.

The Akali government would provide quality education to the children of Dalits free of cost for which special schools would be established. All deserving Dalit students would be provided education up to university level free of cost.

Left rules out tie-up with Cong

Muktsar: Ruling out a tie-up with the Congress in the coming Assembly elections, the state CPM secretary, Prof Balwant Singh, said on Saturday that no third front could emerge in Punjab without the participation of the CPI and the CPM and efforts were on in this direction.

He was talking with mediapersons on the sidelines of a party conference to sensitise public on “anti-people policies” of the Centre. He said the party had already made preparations for contesting the Assembly elections from 17 constituencies.

He listed 14 items, which he demanded should be made available to people at low prices through public distribution system (PDS).


Pay Commission a betrayal: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
The Shiromani Akali Dal president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, yesterday dismissed the setting up of the Fifth Pay Commission in Punjab as “a delaying tactic and the final act of betrayal of the employees by the state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh”.

“With just three-and-half months left for the announcement of the poll process in the state, the Chief Minister has finally washed his hands off all the commitments made by him to the employees in the Congress manifesto before the 2002 assembly elections.

“He has clearly pushed the issue beyond the tenure of his office, but we will gladly fulfill all these commitments once the SAD and allies form a government in the state,” said Mr Badal in a statement here today.

The Akali leader also described the decision to remove enhanced VAT on the recent hike in petrol prices as “too little too late” as the farmers had already been forced to spend heavily on diesel all through the summer.

“Punjab, in fact, is the last state to do this which only showed just how much Amarinder cared for the people of his state,” said Mr Badal.

“All the Pay Commission reports in the past have been implemented by the SAD governments.

“Now that this commission has been asked to submit its report in fourteen months, it is clear that Amarinder is leaving it to the next government to address the misery of the employees,” he said.


CPI to contest 35 Assembly seats
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 12
The Punjab unit of the Communist Party of India (CPI) will contest 35 seats during the ensuing Assembly elections in the state. It will contest at least one seat in each district of the state.

Talking to The Tribune here, Mr Jagroop Singh, state secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, said the state unit had identified 35 seats for contesting. He said the state unit had now asked the district units of the party to send the names of claimants to the party ticket. He said after receiving names of the prospective candidates, the party would declare the names by September-end.

Mr Jagroop Singh also disclosed that the Sangrur district unit of the party had sent a list of three Assembly constituencies, namely Dhuri, Lehragaga and Bhadaur, for contesting the elections. He said the party would examine all proposals received from district units to take final decisions on all 35 identified seats.

Mr Jagroop Singh also stated that the party was working for Left unity to contest the elections on a single platform.

Regarding manifesto of the CPI, he said the party would emphasise on four main issues, including unemployment, education, health and farmers’ problems in its manifesto. He said in the event of an alliance with other Left parties, a common minimum programme (CMP) would be chalked out.

Mr Jagroop Singh also said the CPI wanted a change in Punjab on the basis of economic issues. In view of this, the party was also inviting old comrades and they were getting good response.


‘Summon SGPC chief to Akal Takht’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 12
The Akhand Kirtani Jatha and the Khalsa Chakravarty Mission, both Sikh religious organisations, today urged Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, to summon the SGPC chief, Mr Avtar Singh, Mr Inder Mohan Singh Bajaj, president of the Patiala district unit of the SAD and their associates for their alleged involvement in beating up members of these organisations on July 25 on the premises of the Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib here.

Mr R.P. Singh, spokesman of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, Patiala district, who led the march taken out by members of that organisation, the Khalsa Chakravarty Mission and the SAD (Amritsar) here to lodge protests against the manhandling of members of both religious organisations by members of the task force of the SGPC and activists of the SAD, said a state-level demonstration in the same connection would be held at Amritsar on August 19.

It was perhaps for the first time that the Akhand Kirtani Jatha had come out against the SGPC to lodge a protest against the beating up of members of the organisation when an executive meeting of the SGPC was held at the Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib.

Leaders of both organisations said a written complaint would also be lodged against Mr Avtar Singh to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti.

They alleged that under the presidentship of Mr Avtar Singh, the SGPC had become a tool in the hands of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

They added Mr Badal had been using the SGPC to fulfil his vested political interests.

Prof Mohinder Pal Singh, general secretary of SAD (Amritsar), and Mr Harbhajan Singh Kashmiri, president of SAD (A), Patiala unit, also took part in the protest march.


Govt committed to promoting Punjabi cultural
heritage: Bhattal

S.D. Sharma

Chandigarh, August 12
With the rustic vigour of the rich repository of folk songs and dances, Punjabi music had emerged as a rare phenomenon on the world music scene” stated Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. She was interacting with participants of a programme, ‘Tiyan di Bulloh’ by the Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademi at Punjab Kala Bhavan here today. She explained the significance of the festival with an insight into the profound depth of the cultural heritage of Punjab.

Later talking to The Tribune she disclosed that the government was committed to promoting and disseminating Punjabi literature, music and visual arts in its social and cultural perspective. There was no paucity of funds and efforts for any pioneering viable project. The newly constituted Punjab Arts Council under the chairmanship of Kewal Singh Dhillon was bound to be a vibrating centre for multi-dimensional literary and creative activities. Its theatre with modern technical equipment would be functional within two months, she said.

The council had requested for a grant of corpus fund of Rs 10 crore instead of a grant on a piecemeal basis.

While she endorsed the formulation of a uniform cultural policy of the state, she was concerned over the rampant foeticide and music piracy. She said law it was imperative to create awareness and educate people about the repercussions to society.

Later in the evening, noted singer Dolly Guleria, Usha Kiron , Ravneet Kaur ,students artistes of MTS Khalsa College, Ludhiana, and local colleges presented a cultural programme.


Change work culture, Deputy Speaker tells docs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 12
Prof Darbari Lal, Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, here today exhorted the doctors, paramedical staff and students of the Guru Nanak Dev Hospital and Government Medical College to change the work culture so as to serve the humanity.

Addressing the gathering after the inauguration of the state-of-the-art lithotripsy machine installed at the cost of Rs 1.8 crore at the hospital, Professor Lal citing the example of Himachal Pradesh and Haryana said, the health workers in these states had more humane approach towards those ill than in Punjab. He said spirit of the persons working behind the machine was more important than the infrastructure.

He said he would make efforts to get more funds to provide latest infrastructure needed by the hospital so that patients did not have to move to other places for getting their treatment done.

The Deputy Speaker said the centre had already allocated Rs 2 crore for the purchase of advanced state-of-the-art rotating cobalt unit.

He said out of the total estimated cost of Rs 8 crore the Central Government would provide Rs 5 crore to the state government for setting up the cancer care unit at the GND Hospital.

He said after the utilisation of Rs 2 crore the centre would allocate another installment of Rs 3 crore for the cancer unit in the hospital. He further said that new cobalt plant would provide excellent training opportunities for the MBBS and Post-graduate students.

Dr J.S. Dalal, Principal of the hospital said an association of the NRI doctors settled in Canada and America, had assured him to provide funds.


SAD to oppose shifting of refinery project
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 12
The Guru Gobind Singh Oil Refinery Project which was to be established at Bathinda at an expenditure of Rs 16,000 crore seems to have become a victim of politics.

The mega oil project, the foundation stone of which was laid by the then Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in November, 1998, has been marred by controversies from the initial stages and now with assembly elections round the corner, the speculations regarding proposed move to shift it from here has given further teeth to the Akali's to nail the government on this important issue.

In the latest development, Ms Paramjit Kaur Gulshan, MP, Lok Sabha, from Bathinda, while reacting to the news which appeared in a section of the media today regarding the proposal to shift the oil refinery project from Bathinda to Rajasthan, stated here that the Shiromani Akali Dal will oppose any such move.

Ms Gulshan said the ruling Congress regime in the state was playing into the hands of private companies like Reliance Petrochemicals who wanted that Bhatinda Oil Refinery Project should not see the light of the day.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, SAD, who had played a pivotal role in bringing the oil refinery project to Punjab during his tenure as Chief Minister Punjab, stated that from the very beginning, the Congress had been trying to play a spoilsport and oppose the implementation of this project in the state.

He said the Bathinda Oil Refinery Project was their main accomplishment. But unfortunately, due to erroneous policies of the Congress and vested interests the project seems to be a distant dream now.


2 murder cases solved
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 12
The Faridkot police has succeeded in solving two murder cases dating back to 2003 with the arrest of two members of a gang. Their four aides have already been arrested in another murder case in Kotkapura.

Addressing a press conference here today, SSP Arun Pal Singh said the police had arrested two members of a gang of robbers - Des Raj, alias Desu, and Kulwinder Singh - who were also involved in the killing of two women. He said in the first case registered at City Kotkapura police station on October 29, 2003, the accused killed Sunita Rani in broad daylight and took away her gold chain.

The SSP said while interrogation the accused revealed that Sunita’s murder was a case of contract killing for which they had taken “supari” of Rs 30,000. The deceased’s brother-in-law Surinder Kumar had hired them as his mother wanted to give her share in a Sirsa plot to the deceased.

Des Raj along with Gurpreet Singh, alias Bhinda, had also killed Parbati Devi and took away her gold earrings. Gurpreet had already been arrested. The police had also arrested Nishat Kumar, alias Nishu, Sukhpal Singh, alias Kala, and Surinder Kumar all belonging to the same gang, the SSP said, adding that the gang was also involved in five robbery incidents in Jaito and Kotkapura.


Ganda Kheri bridge — a nightmare for motorists
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, August 12
A strategic bridge on the Rajpura-Patiala road near Ganda Kheri village has become a nightmare for the motorists and emerging as a major accident-prone spot in the area.

The narrow width of the bridge coupled with the high volume of traffic on the highway has compounded the problems of the motorists.

The villagers informed that even fatal accidents are a routine affair at the bridge. With the iron railings broken, vehicles even plunge into the Ganda Kheri canal. In fact, when a loaded vehicles crossed the bridge the vehicle coming from the opposite direction to had to halt to make way for it, said Mr Ram Singh, a resident of Gandhi Kheri.

Danger increases during the night time as the vehicles coming from the opposite directions cannot negotiate sharp turns. Villagers' representations to the authorities concerned to either widen the bridge or construct an alternative bridge have fallen on deaf ears, he alleged.

Another villager alleged that the Punjab Government seemed to have undermined the importance of the bridges on the Banur-Patiala road. The condition of a couple of more bridges on the this particular road was no better than the Ganda Kheri bridge, he complained. Expressing similar sentiments, Mr Surjit Singh Garhi, a member of the SGPC, demanded that a new bridge could give some relief to the motorists as the existing bridge had outlived its utility.


Man facing death seeks jathedar’s help for release
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 12
Davinderpal Singh Bhullar, facing death sentence in a bomb blast case and currently lodged in the Tihar Jail, today urged Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Akal Takht Jathedar, to launch struggle for his release. His letter was handed over to Vedanti by a two-member delegation.

He has requested Vedanti to discuss the issue with jathedars of all takhts and launch the struggle soon. Vedanti had reportedly assured the delegation to discuss the matter with all jathedars as early as possible and to do what was needed.

Davinderpal Singh Bhullar has said in the letter that the jathedar had called upon Sikhs on February 9, 2003, to raise their voice against the alleged discrimination being meted out to them by the consecutive governments.

He said he had filed a mercy petition to the President of India. However, even after three-and-half years, he had got no response.


Computer crime symposium opens
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 12
A national symposium on cyber forensics and computer crimes was inaugurated by Mr N. Sitaram, Director, Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and Intelligent Systems, DRDO, Ministry of Defence, Government of India, New Delhi.

Mr S.S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, presided over the function.

The three-day symposium was being attended by forensic scientists, police officials, defence personnel and officials of various intelligence agencies.

The symposium would also address critical issues concerning cyber forensics, which would also generate awareness about the new types of crimes.

The findings would also help law enforcement agencies in combating computer and cyber crimes.


Khadi board to hold expo
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
The Chairman of the Punjab Khadi and Village Industries Board, Mr Charanjit Singh Walia , today said here that subsidy cheques to borrowers, under the Rural Employment Generation Programme , would be distributed by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at a state-level function on August 15 at Patiala. He said the cheques would be given to those who generated employment for unemployed rural youth by installing units in rural areas.

He further said the board had planned to organise an exhibition of khadi and village industries’ products at the Mini-Secretariat, Patiala.

Mrs Parminder Kaur, Chairperson, Punjab State Women Commission, will inaugurate the exhibition on August 15 which will continue till August 20.


Fainting of kids: suspension of officials sought
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 12
The Punjab Human Rights Committee has demanded immediate suspension of government officials responsible for “criminal negligence” towards schoolchildren, 11 of whom fainted at a local stadium here during a rehearsal for the I-Day function in the blistering heat yesterday.

In a press note issued here today, general secretary of the panel Ved Prakash Gupta alleged that the district administration violated government directions of not engaging schoolchildren in welcoming VIPs or any other such functions. He said it was shameful on the part of officials concerned not to make any arrangement for shade or drinking water for the children.


2 Kashmiri youths released
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
Two Kashmiri youths, who were detained late last night on the suspicion of being terrorists, were released today after detailed questioning, said City SSP A.S. Rai. The police could not find any incriminating evidence against them, he added.

He said the youths were caught on specific information. They were caught as part of intensified vigil after a nationwide alert was sounded following the busting of an Al-Qaida plan to blow up several aeroplanes simultaneously.


Lieut-Gen P.K. Singh visits military station
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 12
Lieut-Gen P.K. Singh made a visit to the military station here yesterday after taking over as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South Western Command, from Lieut-Gen K. Nagaraj. He was received by Lieut-Gen N.S. Brar, GOC, Chetak Corps, on his arrival at the station.

The General Officer is Colonel Commandant of the Regiment of Artillery and has taken over as the Army Commander of the South Western Command on August 1.


Intelligence agencies on high alert
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 12
The intelligence and security agencies here have stepped up vigil at major tourist spots and religious shrines as the authorities sounded a red alert all over the country after a terror plot was uncovered in the United Kingdom.

The UK police has arrested as many as 24 persons linked with Al-Qaida.

Tight vigil was being maintained at the Rajasansi International Airport, railway station, and the Golden Temple. Authorities from various agencies are even avoiding lengthy interaction on the telephones.


Capt to visit Dubai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is expected to go on a two-day visit to Dubai.

Sources said Capt Amarinder Singh was going on a private visit to Dubai to attend a social function. He would leave late in the evening on August 15 and return on August 17. He has taken permission from the Union Government in this regard, it is learnt.


Student’s death mourned
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 12
Students and staff of Multani Mal Modi College yesterday mourned the death of Jaspreet Kaur Ballagan, a BCA-II student of the college, in a road accident.

A condolence meeting was held here in which the staff and students held prayers and decided to convey their commiseration to the bereaved family.


SI held for accepting bribe
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 12
The Vigilance Bureau arrested Sub-Inspector Surjan Singh red-handed while allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 3000 from Mr Sadhu Singh in lieu of exonerating his sons in a ransom case in which they had already been acquitted by the court. Mr Arun Kumar Mittal, SSP Vigilance, said a theft case was registered against the sons of Mr Sadhu Singh in 1998 who were later acquitted by a court in1999.

Recently, Sub- Inspector Surjan Singh went to the residence of Mr Sadhu Singh and started enquiring about the whereabouts of his sons. He told Mr Sadhu Singh that his sons were still offenders in the records of the police and action could be initiated against them anytime.

He also told Mr Sadhu Singh that in case he wanted to save his sons, he should pay Rs 5000. Mr Mittal said yesterday that when Sub-Inspector Surjan Singh went to the house of Mr Sadhu Singh to collect the bribe money, a team of the Vigilance Bureau led by DSP Vinod Chowdhry arrested him while allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 3000 which Mr Sadhu Singh had paid.

Mr Mittal said the amount was recovered from the wallet of the Sub-Inspector and his hands turned pink when washed with water.


Gang of dacoits busted
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 12
The police yesterday busted a gang of inter-district looters and snatchers with the arrest of its three members.

Mr R.N. Dhoke, SSP, Hoshiarpur, said here today that the police arrested Nirmal Singh, alias Nimma, and Kulwant Singh, alias Kanta, both residents of Shimlapuri, Ludhiana, and Birbal Singh, alias Balla, of the area under the Sadar Khanna police station. A .12-bore countrymade pistol and empty shell, which they were carrying, were seized.

They were travelling in an Indica car, which they had bought with the looted money, at the time of their arrest.

They told the police that on the night of December 16, 2006, they, along with their three accomplices, Jaswinder Singh, alias Pindi, and Romi, both from Ludhiana, and Kuldip Singh, alias Kipa, of Mansoora (Jagraon), looted Rs 10.72 lakh and gold ornaments from the house of Rai Singh at Bassi Umar Khan village.

The SSP said Nirmal Singh, who had hatched the plot of the dacoity, was a friend of the brother-in-law of Rai Singh. He used to visit the house in connection with the registration and demarcation of land.


12 cases of IMFL seized
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 12
The Local Excise Department has seized 12 cases of IMFL that were being smuggled from Chandigarh for sale in Punjab at a naka and arrested the owner of the vehicle. The department has registered a case under Section 61-A of the Excise Act and imposed a penalty of Rs 50,000.

Mr B.S Sekhon, ETO, Excise, Fatehgarh Sahib, told that the department has initiated a campaign to stop the smuggling of IMFL from adjoining states to Punjab. He said nakas had been set up on all entry points of the district.

Giving details he said today at a naka he along with Mr Jagdish Singh and Kamaljit Kaushal, Excise Inspector, signalled a black coloured car (No. CH01T- 5138) to stop near Floating Restaurant, Sirhind but the owner of the car sped away.

On this they chased the car and nabbed him at traffic light point in Mandi Gobindgarh town.

He said during the checking of the car 12 cases of IMFL were recovered and the owner of the car, identified as Jaswinder Singh, a resident of Mohali was arrested.

He said later the accused was presented before Mr K.V.S Sidhu, AETC Fatehgarh Sahib, who imposed a penalty of Rs 50,000.


Three die in separate incidents
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 12
Three persons including two laborers died in the area in three different incidents during the past 24 hours.

Surjit Singh (45) resident of Patti township died on the spot late past evening when his scooter was hit by some unknown vehicle . In another incident Lakhwinder Singh (50) was found dead this morning at Burj village 20 km from here. He had gone to sleep at the farm house where he was working as a laborer at night. The Sarhali police has registered a complaint under 174 of the Cr.Prc. in both cases.

In the third incident Paramjit Singh, alias Pappu, of the local Muradpur locality died when he was buried under the stored stone-slabs while unloading a truck. He died on the spot. The city police has lodged a complaint under 174 the Cr.P.C.

The three bodies were handed over to the concerned families after conducting a postmortem examination today at the civil hospital.


Two held with Rs 90,000 fake currency

Amritsar, August 12
The Special Narcotics Cell (SNC) today seized fake currency worth Rs 90,000 from two persons, Balwant Singh of Dauke village and Amarjit Singh of Mulechak.

According to the information, the accused used to bring the contraband from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh where it was manufactured on computer. A case under Section 489 (A), (B), (C) and 420 of the IPC has been registered.

SSP Makhan Singh said the police after receiving a tip-off arrested the accused from the old sabzi mandi area outside Hall Gate. — OC


College functioning sans syllabus
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 12
Government College of Physical Education, Patti, with 45 seats in Bachelor of Physical Education( B.P.E.) Part-I has started functioning. Though the classes have started, the syllabus has not been prepared yet.

This college is the first of its type started under the aegis of Guru Nanak Dev University.

Ms Mohinder Gandhi, Principal of the local SGAD Government College, who has been given the additional charge of this college besides the charge of Government College, Patti, told this correspondent here yesterday that four lecturers, including two of physical education and one each of English and Punjabi, had been provided for the college.

Studies at the previous colleges would be affected. Ms Gandhi further revealed that as the college was the first of its type being run under Guru Nanak Dev University and the university had no syllabus, it would have to borrow the syllabus from Punjabi University, Patiala.


Teachers hold dharna at DC’s office
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 12
Teachers of Multani Mal Modi College, Khalsa College, PMN Rajpura and Public College Samana held a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here yesterday.

They protested against the unfulfilled demand for pension gratuity scheme, besides others.

The call was given by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU).

Addressing the dharna, union general secretary Dr Jagwant Singh said the pension scheme was finalised by former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal but never implemented.

The Congress had promised in its manifesto to fulfil the promise but it was yet to be realised, they rued.

The PCCTU will organise “chon wada yaad karo” march from Barnala to Patiala on August 18.

District president Prof Jatinder Dev and secretary Prof S.S. Bhatia condemned the state government for its lackadaisical attitude towards their demands.

Modi College Union secretary Dr Harcharan Singh flayed the policy of commercialisation of education and demanded the lifting of ban on fresh recruitment in colleges and absorption of surplus staff due to the shifting of Class XII to schools.


Kalam to inaugurate educational complex
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 12
The President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, will inaugurate an educational complex established by the village residents in collaboration with the Shardhanjali Charitable Trust, at Sanghol village in Fatehgarh Sahib on August 17.

The trust has been established by a UK-based entrepreneur, Lord Daljit Rana, who was born in Sanghol. At present, he is a member of the honorary Indian Consul in Belfast, Ireland.

The residents of Sanghol, in their enthusiasm to combine the future of the village as a fusion of modern techno living with adherence to ancient Vedic values, have been inspired to join the Shardhanjali Charitable Trust to establish Smt Jawala Devi Memorial Trust in memory of Lord Rana’s Mother.

Under these circumstances, the setting up of an educational complex by the trust roused more than common interest among residents and there is excitement among them at the prospect of the new educational; complex coming at the village. The Sanghol Educational Project became functional with the starting of Cordia College for Girls in the academic session 2005-06.


300 trees planted in college
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 12
Students of the Institute of Engineering and Technology today planted more than 300 ornamental sampling on the college campus as a part of tree plantation programme.

Highlighting the need to protect the environment and tree plantation, the Chief guest Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr Alok Shekhar, along with Ms Kulwinder Gurcharan Singh, Chairperson of the trust running the college, Dr H.S. Gurm, the Vice-Chairman and Dr V.P. Singh, Principal of the institute, also participated in the tree plantation drive.


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