P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Parties to hold conferences at Longowal today
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
Tomorrow will be a big day for all major political parties which will be holding their conferences on the martyrdom day of Sant Harchand Singh at Longowal in Sangrur district.

Besides the ruling Congress party, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal), headed by Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, have been working hard for the past several days to organise the conferences of their respective parties.

Obviously, all these parties will reveal their agenda with regard to the coming Assembly elections in Punjab. From the line of “ attack” adopted by the parties at these conferences, one will be able to make out what kind of issues will dominate the electoral battle in the state.

Already issues such as unemployment, power crisis, spiralling prices, poor education and health facilities have been in the limelight in the past several days and the Opposition parties are expected to focus on them. The ruling party’s emphasis will be on development, revival of state’s economy and protection of the rights of the state vis-a-vis river waters.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is away to Dubai. He is expected to return tomorrow. Whether he will make it to the proposed Congress party conference at Longowal or not, it is not clear yet. Punjab’s senior Cabinet ministers are expected to address the conference.

Mr Chandumajra, who is planning to set up the “Sanjha Chon Morcha”, has invited the presidents of the Bahujan Samaj Party, the secretaries of the Punjab unit’s of the CPI and the CPM, the presidents of the Lok Bhalai Party and the Akali Dal( 1920) to address participants in the conference from his party’s platform. Mr Chandumajra told The Tribune that people were fed up with Mr Badal and also with the Congress rule in the state.

There was not much difference in the policies followed by both parties. People wanted a third alternative in the state. “ We shall provide the alternative by bringing all like-minded parties under the banner of the morcha”, he added. And most probably tomorrow, the set up of the morcha will be announced, he claimed.

He said the Amarinder government’s biggest failure was to prevent the Union Government from extending concessions to the industry in Himachal Pradesh till year 2010. He said the party had promised that there would be no extension in such concessions which had become a big hurdle in the growth of industry in Punjab. Because of the concessions, industrialists from Punjab were moving to Himachal Pradesh to set up units there he added.

He said Mr Badal had failed to play the role of an effective opposition leader in the state. He had been defending himself and his family and had done nothing as far as issues pertaining to the state were concerned. Because of a personal political battle between Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab was hit hard. Neither was giving attention towards the development of the state. Mr Badal had no programme for the people and was busy in promoting his family’s politics, Mr Chandumajra added.

Mr Chandumajra said he was expecting a big change in the state’s political scenario in the days to come. There were bright chances of the emergence of new political combinations in the state before the Assembly elections due to be held in five months from now.


Dullo woos party workers for Beant’s martyrdom day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
A meeting of the presidents of the districts units of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) was held here today to chalk out the programme to observe the martyrdom of Beant Singh, late Chief Minister of Punjab, on August 31.

Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, who presided over the meeting, said a political conference would be held at Payal on that day to pay tributes to Beant Singh. All party MLAs and ministers, especially from the Malwa region, had been directed to mobilise party activists and people for participation in the conference in a big way. Senior leaders of the party from Delhi, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, all his Cabinet colleagues and party MLAs would attend the conference.

He said on that day, the party would also pay floral tributes to Beant Singh at his samadhi in Sector 42 at Chandigarh.

Mr Parminder Singh, general secretary of the PPCC, said Mr Dullo also reviewed the on-going mass contact programme at the meeting. He said people were giving a good response to the programme. “Mr Dullo has himself addressed some of the meetings organised under the mass contact programme,” he added. District presidents would keep a watch on voter lists and ensure that all eligible citizens got their right to vote. He said party activists should help voters in rural areas to get their voter identity cards issued.

Meanwhile, Mr Parminder Singh said as many as 100 activists of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) today joined the Congress party from Kum Kalan Assembly segments. Mr Dullo welcomed them to the party fold. Prominent among them who had joined the party were Mr Ramesh Lal and Mrs Baljit Kaur, president of the Mahila wing of the BSP of Kum Kalan circle. Mr Gurdeep Singh, Sarpanch of Chak Sarwan Nath, played an active role in getting the BSP activists in the Congress fold, he added.


Jagmeet admits to differences with Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Mansa, August 19
Senior Congress leader Jagmeet Singh Brar said today that he had differences with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, over some issues and he was still against the concessions extended by the state government to the Reliance group. He stated this while addressing a rally at Ghurangana village, near here.

Mr Brar said differences between him and the Chief Minister could also be overcome before the Assembly elections. He said when he had raised the issues of recruitment in the Army, prices of crops and injustice with Punjab in Parliament many senior party leaders had stopped talking to him, but later they extended support to him on these matters.

Interestingly, he praised Capt Amarinder Singh for protecting farmers’ interests and ensuring smooth procurement and payment of their agricultural produce during the Congress regime.

He also lauded the Chief Minister for celebrating historic events on a large scale.

He said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, did nothing for the farmers during his three stints as Chief Minister.

Mr Brar claimed that the farmers would soon get bonus on paddy. He further claimed that a package for debt-ridden farming community was also on the cards.

Senior party leader Manjit Singh Jhalbuti also flayed the previous SAD regime for turning a blind eye to the district’s development.


Parties in election mode in Punjab
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, August 19
With six months to go for the polls to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, both major political parties — the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal have started positioning themselves in the election mode. While the party in power is leaving no stone unturned to please every segment of the electorate by giving them sops and also accepting the demands of various segments, the Shiromani Akali Dal remains busy in castigating Captain Amarinder Singh for having not kept the promises with the electorate. It is interesting to note that the Shiromani Akali Dal does not have much to show on paper. Mr Parkash Singh Badal is also using the second tactic by promising the moon to every region and segment of the society.

Both the parties are busy in organising rallies in the length and breadth of the state. While Mr Badal remains the star campaigner of the Akali Dal, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh makes it a point to be present in all the rallies which are being organised by the Congress. Although Captain Amarinder Singh has himself declared that it is the prerogative of the high command to name the next Chief Minister, there seems to be little doubt that he remains the only crowed puller. There is no doubt that he has now won over Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, who is also a strong organiser. The Chief Minister is trying to plug the loopholes in the administration. There is not an iota of doubt that Captain Amarinder Singh retains his full grip on the bureaucracy as well as the backbone of the administration. The Chief Minister made certain announcements at the Independence Day function to mitigate the sufferings of the farmers. He has stated that the farmers will have to pay only the principal amount of their cooperative loans and no interest would be charged from them. Recruitments made in various departments, have not raised any eyebrows and there are no complaints of favouritism.

The pressure of the Chief Minister on the centre to give bonus on paddy procurement has also worked and the Centre has almost decided to give Rs 40 per quintal as bonus on paddy. This will further help him in boosting his image among the farmers.

For all these measures, the Akalis seem to be worried and have been put on the defensive. There is a sharp contrast between the alacrity shown by the Chief Minister in his decisions to the delaying tactics of Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The Chief Minister is successfully selling the measures regarding the rejuvenation of the state economy. Akalis finding themselves on a weak wicket have started creating more noise regarding the mega projects - their viability and the effects on agricultural economy. The Akalis in desperation have now gone to the high court on the issue of acquisition of land for the SEZs.

However, small traders and the small scale industrialists are not happy with the treatment meted out to them. The failure of the Chief Minister to personally listen to the difficulties of this segment has resulted in resentment among them. The recent extension of benefits to the establishment of new industries in Himachal Pradesh and other hill states by the Centre has further caused heartburn among small scale industrialists of the state. This speaks of the discrimination against Punjab by the Centre. Punjab has been pressing for special package right from the tenure of Mr Beant Singh because the state suffered badly due to 10 years of militancy.

On the organisational front, both the parties still remain faction ridden which will affect the prospects in the election. To counter this impression, both the parties have started wooing and winning over each others local level leaders to overawe the dissatisfied elements. The Congress has won over Mr Prem Singh Lalpura, a veteran Akali leader, and his son in the Majha region while the Akalis have not succeeded in roping in a leader of Mr Lalpura’s stature. Mr Badal in his effort to win over the urban voters, has started penetrating among the Hindus and has also activated the BJP. The BJP remains in bad shape in Punjab. The organisation of the BJP is weak and the only charismatic figure in Punjab BJP is Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu. How far his screen popularity and his comic gestures will compensate the BJP is yet to be seen.

Talks regarding the third front initiated by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia is yet to make any headway. Under the existing circumstances, the main contest in Punjab shall be between the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal.


Pul Kanjri martyrs’ kin to assemble today
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Pul Kanjri (Amritsar), August 19
Residents of Pul Kanjri, who had survived in the attack by Kabaili rioters after Partition in which almost the entire population was massacred, would assemble here tomorrow to mark the 60th anniversary of the sordid incident.

The historical town has been reduced to a tiny village now. Those who survived the bloodbath left the place and settled in various parts of the country. But every year, they come here to pay tributes to their ancestors.

Once a prominent trading centre, Pul Kanjri that scripted the legendary “love story” of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Muslim dancer Moran, has now fallen into oblivion. Even as old-timers of the town have moved to far-off places, they have been endeavouring to revive the glory of the place.

Pul Kanjri was captured by the Pakistani army during the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971 and was recaptured by the Indian Army. A memorial column, constructed in the memory of jawans of Sikh regiments, who had recaptured it in 1971, stands as a testimony to the supreme sacrifices.

Pul Kanjri, where people used to come from various areas, including Amritsar and Lahore, for shopping has now fallen on bad days.

The majestic “Baradari”, built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who used to stay there for a night while travelling from Amritsar to Lahore, is in a dilapidated condition. The ramshackle relics that are falling to pieces tell a sad story.

Some of the frescos of Hindu deities and Guru Nanak Dev with Bala Mardana are still intact in one of the buildings. Some visitors have defaced these historical frescoes by scribbling their names on them.

The ruins of the rich heritage need huge funds that the Central and the state governments may not like to spare.

However, the Border Security Force has now been tasked with the responsibility of restoring historical monuments.

The dilapidated “Baradari” and “Dhab” (place of bathing) and “unsafe” village gurdwara building can be saved only if declared “protected national monuments”, say office-bearers of a welfare society.

Though the BSF has been making efforts to clean the pond and adjoining structures, neither the state government nor the Centre has released any funds so far.


Action sought against “erring” SMO
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 19
In an inquiry, conducted by Mr Ravinder Singh, SDM, Sunam, the Senior Medical Officer (SMO) of the Sunam Civil Hospital, Dr Baldev Singh Sahota, has been “indicted” for charging user charges from the patients in clear violation of the spirit of a letter of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) and for claiming house rent allowance (HRA) whereas he is residing in the official residence of the SMO, Civil Hospital, Sunam.

The SDM of Sunam, in his inquiry report, has also mentioned that as Dr Sahota had not deliberately produced the bills, regarding expenditure on the maintenance of building/equipment, improving facilities for patients and other charges, so this point needed further inquiry. However, looking at the huge amount, Rs 1,41,292, spent on the maintenance of building from April 2005 to March 2006 and expenditure on the maintenance of equipment (Rs 1,31,180) in a year, improving facilities for patients (Rs 1,61,695) in a year, it appears that collection charges are being misutilised and misappropriated, stated the inquiry report.

In the report, submitted to the Sangrur Deputy Commissioner by the SDM, it has been stated that the matter should be brought to the knowledge of the Principal Secretary, Health Department, Punjab, with the request that Dr Baldev Singh Sahota should be immediately shifted from the Sunam Civil Hospital, disciplinary action be initiated against him and an inquiry be entrusted to the DSP, Vigilance, Economic and Health departments.

After receiving the inquiry report from the SDM, Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, had sent it to the Principal Secretary Health, Punjab, for further necessary action. Meanwhile, Mr Swarnjit Singh, State General Secretary of the Punjab State Pharmacists Association, has urged the Punjab Health Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, to transfer the Sunam SMO immediately. He has also urged the Health Minister to order a thorough inquiry into the affairs of the Sunam Civil Hospital and initiate stern action against the alleged “erring” officer.

The SDM had inquired into three allegations against Dr Sahota. The allegations, included charging of user charges in respect of national programmes, like family planning. National Blindness Control, etc. whereas as per letter (No. PHSC/GMFA/ 05/6336-74 dated 11-11-05) fee in respect of national programmes should not have been charged. He had also been drawing HRA and misutilising user charges.


Illegal market costs MC prime land
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur August 19
The Dhariwal Municipal Council is set to lose most of its prime properties due to decisions taken at ‘‘political whims’’. The Hindu Cooperative Bank of Pathankot has moved to auction MC’s prime property to recover a loan of over Rs 1 crore. The loan had been extended to the council during the SAD-BJP regime in the state.

September 19 has been fixed as the date for the auction of the property. The bank has put 13 kanal 4 marla property of the council on auction in order to recover the outstanding amount. The property, includes Gandhi Park, a shopping complex and community hall.

The Managing Director of Hindu Cooperative Bank, Mr Suresh Gupta, admitted that the bank had fixed the date for the auction of Dhariwal Municipal Council properties.

The loan had been raised by the council to build an ‘‘illegal’’ market complex to satisfy the political whims of the then elected representative of the area. The then council authorities had raised a loan of over Rs 1 crore from Hindu Cooperative Bank to construct a market complex on the banks of UBD canal which passes through the town. The market complex was named Langah Market after the then PWD Minister, Mr Sucha Singh Langah.

However, the council authorities never cared about the fact that the land on which they wanted to construct the market did not belong on them. Construction of more than half of the market complex was completed before it was discovered that the land on which the complex was being constructed was actually forest land. The land on the banks of all major canals in the state has been transferred to the Forest Department for plantation by the Department of Irrigation. And according to directions of the Supreme Court, issued in 1996, forest land cannot be used for any other purpose without the prior approval of a centre-empowered committee formed by the court for the purpose. However, in spite of this the then council authorities carried on with the construction work.

Today, the semi-finished Langah Market is in ruins and the council properties are being auctioned to recover the money spent on this ‘‘failed’’ project.


Punjabi University amends lecturers’ eligibility
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, August 19
The Punjabi University Syndicate adopted the amendment suggested by the UGC regarding the eligibility of lecturers at the university and its affiliated colleges during a meeting under the presidentship of Vice-Chancellor S.S. Boparai here today.

Clearing the NET would now be essential for those candidates who did not possess an M.Phil or a Ph.D degree in the subject concerned.

In another decision, the Syndicate decided to merge the Department of Punjabi Lexicography into the Linguistics Department and rename it the Department of Linguistics and Punjabi Lexicography.

This was done to provide a linguistic base for preparing new dictionaries in the Punjabi language.

Dr Harjit Singh Gill, Professor Emeritus with the JNU in New Delhi, was appointed chief editor of the Punjabi kosh (dictionary) and Dr Joga Singh was appointed as co-ordinator of the Punjabi dictionary project.

The Syndicate also gave its approval to the memorandums of understanding signed by the university with the Kutztown University, Pennsylvania, the USA, and the Kwantien University, Surrey, Canada.

With this, the university would now be able to use collective expertise and resources to promote excellence among its students.

A partnership between the university’s Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology with the International Water Management Institute, Colombo, for a study of usage of underground water resources in Hoshiarpur district was also approved.

The Syndicate also gave its approval to a scheme under which faculty members conferred upon with awards by distinguished national or international societies would be honoured by the university and will be given citations.

The Syndicate appointed Dr S.P.S. Virdi Director of the Yadvindera College of Engineering on a contract basis for two years with effect from September 1.

To expedite matters relating to the university, the Syndicate appointed Mr Amarjit Singh Sandhu, Executive Engineer, collector of the university.

The Syndicate also cleared appointment of professors, readers and lecturers in various departments under the Career Advancement Scheme.

Punjab Cabinet Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa, a member of the Syndicate, took part in the deliberations.


Show of strength by expelled SAD leaders
Sanjay Bumbroo

Tribune News Service

Ajnala, August 19
In a major show of strength the expelled members of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) held a rally here today. The rally, which was addressed by Mr Raghbir Singh, Secretary, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), may give sleepless nights to Mr Veer Singh Lopoke, the sitting MLA from Rajasansi.

Speaking on the occasion Mr Raghbir Singh urged Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of SAD, to listen to the voice of the people who had come in support of Harinder Singh Randhawa (Honey), who, along with three others, had been expelled by Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, MP and Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee of SAD.

However, taking a serious note of the speech delivered by Mr Raghbir Singh at the rally, Mr Avtar Singh, President of the SGPC, said he was seeking legal opinion to find out whether an SGPC employee could participate in political rallies or not. He said action would be taken against Mr Raghbir Singh if he was found guilty of violating any such rule.

Referring to Dr Ajnala, who is projecting his son Amarpal Singh Boney as a candidate from Ajnala in the forthcoming elections, Mr Harinder Singh Randhawa said the senior leader wanted to promote family interests by ignoring the party workers. He said SAD (B) was not the personal property of any particular person and added if elected he would work to solve the problems of the people.

Accusing the Congress of spreading corruption in the state Mr Randhawa said the ruling party had failed to deliver the goods as the common people were suffering. He alleged that various MLAs of the ruling group were involved in land grabbing cases in connivance with the land mafia.

A resolution was also passed on the occasion in which Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, MP and Chairman Disciplinary Committee SAD, his son Mr Boney and Mr Lopoke were ‘‘expelled’’ from the party for six years for their anti-party activities.

The resolution further approved the appointment of Mr Ranjit Singh Bhalapind, Mr Manjit Singh Rajasansi and Mr Subeg Singh as president, senior vice-president and general secretary, respectively, of the district unit of SAD (Rural). The resolution further approved the candidature of Mr Randhawa from Ajnala in the forthcoming elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.


President forced to give nod to Bill: Mann

Sangrur, August 19
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), said today that assent to the controversial Office of Profit Bill by the President was a “moral death” of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the Congress party as they had forced the President to give his assent to the Bill.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Mann said this Bill would legitimise corruption among legislators. He said the SAD (A) was expecting a lot from the President on this Bill but the President had disappointed it. — TNS


Obesity emerges major disease in Punjab
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
Punjab is getting fatter with each passing day. If the recent findings of the national Family Health Survey 2005-06 are any indication, obesity is emerging as a major disease in the state.

Painting a dismal picture of the health scenario in Punjab, the survey reveals that 38 per cent women and 30 per cent men are obese in the state with the obesity level distinctly higher in the urban areas than the rural areas. The obesity has been on the rise by 1 per cent point every year since 1998-99 and the emerging lifestyle is to be blamed for this, Dr Gopal Krishan, Senior Professor and Honorary Director of the Population Research Centre of the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), said here today.

In fact, obesity is not the only disease causing concern for Punjab. As many as 80 per cent of the children in the age group of six months to three years are recorded as suffering from anaemia. Anaemia is also common among women in the age group of 15-49 as 38 per cent of them suffer from this disease. And for the men in the same age group, the anaemia's incidence is 13 per cent. The malady is endemic in Punjab and calls for a full-blooded effort to mitigate it, warned Dr Krishan.

However, on the flip side in the demographic scene, there had been a sharp decline in the infant mortality rate from 54 to 42 per thousand during 1992-93 to 2005-6.This is attributed, among other factors, to commendable increase in the share of births attended by a doctor and nurse and other health personnel from 47 per cent to 69 per cent.

"The rise in the income and educational level of the people, coupled with the participation of both public and private sectors in the provisions of health services, are contributory factors", Dr Krishan informed.

On the percentage of underweight children under the age of three, the survey recorded a steep fall from 46 per cent to 27 per cent during this period. Similarly, Punjab has attained the replacement fertility level of two children per woman. The comparable in the first survey in 1992-93 was three.

The use of condom and pill, more as a spacing rather than terminal device, is on the rise. The share of condom users among practising any modern method of family planning has gone up from 17 per cent to 28 per cent during 1992-93 to 2005-06, the survey pointed out.

It may be recalled that the survey was released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of India on August 17 in New Delhi.

The survey is third in the series of such exercises--the earlier two having been conducted in 1992-93 and 1998-99. The Chandigarh-based CRRID was a participant in carrying out all these surveys in Punjab.


PHEF seeks assistance
Location of historical site
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 19
In view of the Punjab Government’s opinion that there was no evidence to identify the exact site where Maharaja Ranjit Singh had hoisted his flag and deployed his army atop Shivalik hills here, the Punjab Heritage and Education Foundation (PHEF) has submitted records to the Director, Archaeology Survey, Punjab, to assist it in tracing the exact location of the site.

Giving details at a press conference here today, the president of the PHEF, Mr Gurbax Singh Shergill, said in absence of evidence with the government about the historical site, “we have submitted details to the Director, Archaeology Survey, about four days ago that Maharaja Ranjit Singh had deployed his armed forces and established an observation post with his flag on Arshdhatu pole on the top of Shivalik hills before meeting Lord William Bentick in 1931 near Ropar.”

He said: “We have also demanded from the state government that in memory of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a heritage park be established at the historical site on the top of the hills.”

“Finance would be no problem as a large number of heritage lovers in Punjab, India and abroad were willing to offer financial help for a statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh along with his cabinet members.

“We also plan to organise a heritage awareness convention on September 17,” he said.

“We moved the court when an automobile company started levelling Shivalik hills as per their expansion programme, posing a threat to the historical site. While disposing our PIL on July 26 this year, the High Court directed the state government to institute an inquiry to determine the status of the site in question and whether it needed to be protected,” said advocate M.S Rahi, chairman, Sikh Legal Foundation.

Dr Rahi said earlier the Director, Cultural Affairs, Heritage and Museum Department, Punjab, had established in his report that the hills where the flag had been hoisted was the same site which was used as an observatory post during the meeting of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Lord William Bentick.


DSGMC’s memo to Akal Takht
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 19
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management committee (DSGMC) gave a memorandum to the Jathedar of Akal Takht under the second Gurdwara Sudhar Lahar, seeking reformatory steps, here today.

Headed by Mr Harvinder Singh Sarna, president of the DSGMC, the participants, including leaders of various Akali factions, presented the memorandum to Mr Davinder Singh, in charge, Akal Takht Secretariat, in the absence of the Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti.

Earlier, the delegation started the march from Gurdwara Saragarhi and reached Akal Takht, where the members recited path of Japuji Sahib and performed ardas.

Mr Sarna, while talking to mediapersons said their request for booking rooms in the SGPC Serais (inns) failed to yield any response.

The memorandum felt that the management of gurdwaras was deteriorating and the sangat was getting the impression that decisions of Akal Takht were being taken on the dictates of an individual.

The DSGMC also distributed a booklet, “Gurdwara Sudhar Lahar-II Isdi Lor Ate Mahatata” (Gurdwara Reform Movement — its requirement and importance) published by its Dharam Prachar Committee.

It blamed the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) for misusing the gurdwara funds for furthering its political agenda.


Protest against foeticide
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 19
The SAD (Amritsar) will hold a demonstration against female foeticide and female infanticide in front of the District Courts here on August 21.

Addressing a press conference , Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD (Amritsar), said the Patran incident had exposed the negligence of the Health and Police Department in tackling the menace.

He said the incident which had occurred in the Chief Minister’s home district could have been averted if the Health Department had taken action at the appropriate time.


2 kg gold donated at Golden Temple
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 19
Ms Surjit Kaur, a resident of Mumbai, has donated a gold strip weighing more than 2 kg for embroidery in ‘Chandoa Sahib’.

Informing this, Mr Harbeant Singh, secretary, SGPC, said the Mumbai resident had expressed her desire for embroidering gold strip design in January to the then manager of Golden Temple, Mr Roop Singh. The design was approved by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, and Giani Gurbachan Singh, Head Granthi of Golden Temple.

Mr Singh said that it took more than seven months to complete the golden strip to be fixed in Chandoa Sahib. Giani Gurbachan Singh fixed the first part of the strip in the presence of Jathedar Akal Takht and Mr Avtar Singh, SGPC chief. Ms Surjit Kaur was honoured with a siropa.


Sikh bodies to take legal action against writer
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 19
For the first time, various Sikh organisations including Nihang factions, at an emergency meeting, held at Gurdwara Baba Bakala yesterday decided to resort to legal action against Mohinder Singh Josh for authoring a controversial book.

Mr G. S. Lamba , Editor , “Sant Sipahi”, said the chiefs of various Nihang factions and Baba Harnam Singh Dhumma of Damdami Taksal had decided in principle to urge the state government to take exemplary action against the author who had used derogatory language against the ‘Bani’ of Guru Gobind Singh.


Bhai Ishar Singh rewarded with Rs 21,000

Amritsar, August 19
The particular of Bhai Ishar Singh, who saved the daughter of an Army officer from the clutches of six drunken youth who had tried to molest her, here recently, has been sent to government for honouring him.

Mr Manpreet Singh Chhatwal, SDM, honoured him with a cash prize of Rs 21,000 on behalf of the district administration here today.

Mr Chhatwal said the administration had sent details of the incident and bio-data of Bhai Ishar Singh, a former CRPF cop, to the government.


Police seeks list of illegal liquor shops
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 19
Taking a cue from the recent incident of the attempt of kidnapping and raping a girl in the wee hours by six drunken youths, the Police Department has asked the Excise Department to provide it a list of illegal and other shops opened in the city.

Mr S.S. Srivastava, district police chief, today held a meeting with excise officials and liquor vendors in this regard and directed the liquor shop owners to strictly follow the timings as per the excise norms.

Mr G.S. Lamba, Editor, Sant Sipahi, has urged Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, to take up the matter with the authorities concerned and district administration as a large number of liquor shops had come up indiscriminately in and around the holy city.


Villagers block traffic
Tribune News Service

Dinanagar (Gurdaspur), August 19
Villagers of surrounding areas of Dinanagar blocked traffic for about two hours on the National Highway No. 15 last night to protest against long unscheduled power cuts.

The villagers got peeved when the PSEB authorities imposed another power cut in the night. The villagers were already facing over six hours’ power cuts in the day. They gathered in large numbers and sat in the dharna on the highway at about 10 pm and raised slogans against the Punjab Government. The jam on the road continued till 12 night leaving long queues of vehicles on both sides.


Resentment over unscheduled power cuts
Our Correspondent

Batala, August 19
Resentment prevailed amongst residents of the city today due to unscheduled power cuts.

It is interesting to note that power cuts from today was 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. (5-hour) then again from 11.45 a.m. to 3.45 pm (4-hour). Power cuts was re-enforced from 4.15 p.m. to 5.15 p.m. About 10-hour power cut was imposed today in the city.


Cleanliness drive

Ferozepore, August 19
The Golden Arrow Army Wives Welfare Association has been educating residents about pollution and its effects on the environment and has launched a plantation and cleanliness drive.

Ms Abhilasha Singh, president of the association, says an endeavour is being made to mobilise people and emphasis is being laid on eradicating congress grass.

According to her, saplings of various varieties have been planted. — OC


News bulletin not aired

Phillaur, August 19
Akashwani, Jalandhar, could not broadcast its five-minute “Paradeshik Samachar” news bulletin due to a technical fault in the communication lines this afternoon. As the listeners of the radio news bulletin at 1.10 p.m. could hear only light music for the duration instead of Punjabi news. — OC


A correction

In the news report. “Bhagat’s memorials to be national monuments” carried in these columns yesterday, Mudki, Pherushahr and Sabrao were wrongly referred to as villages on the Hussainiwala border having memorials of Bhagat Singh. It should be read as: Mudki, Pherushahr and Sabrao villages, where the first Anglo-Sikh war took place, and the memorial of Bhagat Singh on the Hussainiwala border are being developed as national monuments. The error is regretted. — TNS


Police gets warrants against murder suspect
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 19
In a major breakthrough in the case of brutal murder of the wife of a marriage palace owner in Ludhiana two years ago, the police has procured production warrant of the prime suspect who had been missing since the day of the crime.

Sources in the police revealed that Parkash, who had been working as a domestic help in the house of Mr Deepak Dhawan, had been arrested by the Delhi Police in connection with a double murder case there. Mr Dhawan recognised his pictures published in various newspapers two weeks ago and informed the police. The police is all set to bring the suspect to the city from a Delhi on Monday.

The murder of Kiran Dhawan had hit the headlines two years ago and the case was in the news especially for the manner in which the victim was killed. Kiran’s body was found on a chair in her bedroom on July 17, 2004. A kitchen knife, smeared with blood, and a mortar were seized from the scene of the crime. The murder had apparently took place between 12 noon and 2 pm.

The servant had reportedly been employed two days before the crime. The police could not solve the case all these months as there was no trace of the servant and his photographs were also not available.


Robbery story turns out to be false, 3 booked
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 19
Concocting a story of “saria” (iron rods) being looted from his truck proved costly to a truck driver. His accomplice spilled the beans before the police and revealed that he had sold it off at an iron store in Maur Mandi. The driver and the store owner, who is the brother of the Improvement Trust EO, have been booked in the case.

SSP Varinder Kumar said the police came to know on August 12 that Sahara volunteers had admitted a truck driver to the Civil Hospital after he was found lying unconscious on the roadside near Jodhpur Romana village. On August 14, the driver, Chamkaur Singh, stated that he was on his way from Mandi Gobindgarh to Bhucho Mandi on his truck loaded with about 91 quintal “saria” when four men stopped him at Handiyayia Chowk on August 11 night and boarded his vehicle. Three of them were in police uniform, while the other was in civvies. They asked him to stop his truck between Tapa and Barnala before forcing him to inhale “something” and beating him up. He said he fell unconscious and found himself in the hospital on regaining consciousness. Police investigations revealed that Chamkaur Singh was also accompanied by Buta Singh of Mansa. On interrogation, the latter disclosed that Chamkaur had in fact sold off “saria” to Sanjay Kumar of Jindal Iron Store in Maur Mandi. The police has registered a case against Chamkaur, Buta and Sanjay Kumar under Sections 406, 407, 420, 411, 182 and 34 of the IPC and recovered 63 quintals of “saria” from the iron store. While Sanjay and Buta have been arrested, Chamkaur is yet to be discharged from the hospital.


Schools kids with oily hair beaten

Amritsar, August 19
The Principal of a private school allegedly put soil on the heads of six students before beating them for coming to school with oily hair.

A couple of students of Greenwood Public School in Verka town in the district fell unconscious yesterday when their Principal, Maj Manmohan Singh Bath (retd), beat them up severely with a baton.

Major Bath (retd) was reportedly infuriated over the possibility of the oily heads of the children spoiling the freshly painted walls of the school for which he claimed to have spent over Rs 11,000.

The agitated parents of the victims who included Avil (7), Anshdeep (7) and Jugraj (11), went to the police, but the case was yet to be registered.

The parents said that the police was reluctant to file an FIR as the Principal was related to a senior police official.

The Principal, when contacted, admitted to having beaten the children but said he had not thrashed them so hard and the parents were raising a hue and cry over a minor act of disciplining. — UNI


NRI family booked in dowry case
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 19
An NRI family, who settled in Hong-Kong, has been booked for harassing a woman for dowry. Police sources today said a case under Section 498A had been registered on the complaint of Ms Rajbir Kaur, a resident of Adda Noordi.

Rajbir Kaur told the police that she was married to Gurdeep Singh of Bhail village on November 16, 2003, who is settled in Hong Kong along with his parents. She said Gurdeep had returned to Hong-Kong after a few days of marriage. She further said Gurdeep did not contact her even on telephone. Meanwhile, she gave birth to a female baby.

She alleged that Dalbir Kaur and Jagir Singh, sister and brother-in-law of Gurdeep, took away gold jewellery which was given on the occasion of her marriage.

Rajbir brought the matter to the notice of the local SSP. The SSP deputed Mr Jaswant Singh, DSP, who inquired the matter, found that Mohinder Singh and Soma, father-in-law and mother-in-law of Rajbir, and her husband, Gurdeep, Dalbir Kaur and Jagir Singh were responsible for the guilty under Section 498 A.

However, no arrest has been made so far.


Another kidnapping attempt
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 19
Close on the heels of the sensational kidnapping of an unidentified daughter of an Army officer which was foiled by a resident of Hyderabad here a couple of days ago, another kidnapping attempt was reportedly made in Ram Bagh area here today evening.

When contacted, Mr S.S. Srivastava, district police chief, said he had deputed a senior DSP to look into the complaint . However, it is learnt that the alleged victim is working with a private concern. She had lodged a report with the police that some unidentified persons had made an attempt to kidnap her. Details are awaited.


Contractors held for poaching fish

Gurdaspur, August 19
In a violation of rules, labourers of government contractors were poaching fish in streams of the Beas. The fishing is banned in all rivers till August 31 due to the breeding season. Contractors were arrested by the Department of Fisheries on the basis of information provided by former wildlife warden Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa.

During the breeding season the fish migrates to streams or tributaries. These days when the fish returns back to the river, the labourers trapped them, claimed Mr Bajwa.

The nets being used by the contractors were narrow. The Assistant Director, Fisheries, Mr B.B. Sharma, said he had directed the contractors to employ men to check the poaching during the banned season. — TNS


483 kg of poppy husk seized, three held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 19
The police has arrested three persons on the charge of drug peddling and recovered 483 kg of poppy husk from them.

Those arrested have been identified as Rattan Singh of Wadala Kalan, Ram Singh of Thathian and Manjit Singh of Timmowal.

Acting on a tipoff, police teams had conducted raids at different suspected places.

The police registered cases under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.


Mother, 2 kids end life

Amritsar, August 19
Rajwinder Kaur, wife of Gurparvan Singh belonging to the Vallah area, committed suicide along with her two minor children by jumping in front of a train near the Verka railway crossing here today.

All of them died on the spot. The Government Railway Police has registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC. The police was investigating the matter. — OC


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