P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Panchayat Union threatens gherao of Assembly
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 25
Hundreds of sarpanch and members of various panchayats of Punjab, who jammed traffic near the Sewa Singh Thikhriwala chowk today to lodge protest in support of their unfulfilled demands, threatened to gherao the Vidhan Sabha during its session scheduled for next month if these were not acceded.

The protesters, who later held a rally in the Baradari area under the banner of the Panchayat Union, Punjab, also alleged that a number of sarpanch and panchayat members were pressured into not joining the rally by some government officials.

Though the union was supposed to gherao the new Moti Bagh Palace — the private residence of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh — earlier, they decided to stage a dharna and block traffic near the chowk.

The first-of-its-kind agitation by the union in the hometown of the Chief Minister prompted reaction from the state government, which tried to foil it by pressing official machinery into service.

Interestingly, some of the protesters belonged to the ruling Congress. However, most of the sarpanch and panchayat members of Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib districts stayed away from the protest.

Union president Sukhdev Singh Bareke said they had been feeling humiliated as the state government had been ignoring their demands for the past few years.

He said panchayats had been rendered mere puppets in the hands of officials.

The union demanded the state government to empower panchayats by giving them full powers to run the six departments that the administration had entrusted to panchayats.

They also demanded honourarium or pension for sarpanch and panchayat members, divesting of powers of BDPOs that can be used to place sarpanch and panchayat members under suspension and provision of equitable rates for labour and material used for development works by panchayats.


Former Pak MP says trade key to good ties
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 25
Chaudhary Jali Ahmed Khan, president, World Peace Foundation, and former Pakistan MP, yesterday said there was a great need of developing strong economic relations between India and Pakistan to enable them to emerge as global economic powers.

Chaudhary Khan originally belongs to Ragho Majra locality of Patiala and migrated to Pakistan during the Partition. He took his school and college education in Patiala only.

Chaudhary Khan, who headed an eight-member delegation during his visit to the Punjabi University, told mediapersons that if India and Pakistan would make their economic relations strong, then both countries could enjoy a special status in the world and compete with China.

Not only this, strong economic relations between both these countries would also enable them to develop cordial relations and solve all contentious issues amicably.

When asked about his comments over the bomb blasts, which took place in Mumbai and Delhi in the recent past, he said he was against any form of terrorism and added that his prime concern was that peace should prevail all over the world.

To another question, he said he hoped that democracy would come to Pakistan within a year or so.

Chaudhary Khan narrated stories of people on both sides of the border who had been longing to embrace each other.

In a choking voice, he told how he felt about to be here at Patiala as he had spent his childhood and boyhood here.

Chaudhary Khan said he had instituted four scholarships for students of the Punjabi University to be named after Amrita Pritam, his father, mother and one in his own name.

He added that The World Peace Foundation had chosen Mr Boparai for two prestigious awards — the Amrita Pritam Peace Award and the Communal Harmony Award. He gave away these awards to Mr Boparai on the occasion.

Earlier, at a function organised in connection with their visit to the Senate Hall of the Punjabi University, its Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, in his welcome address focussed on different dimensions of mutual understanding and relationship.

He emphasised that people of both sides of Punjab should pave a way for the opening up of the borders for business.

Economics could be a very strong basis of long lasting ties and interdependence. This would bring prosperity for people of both sides.

He hinted that some vested interests were not in favour of cordial relations between India and Pakistan.

The delegation included Mr Iqbal Dhaliwal, advocate, Sayed Nazim Hassan, general-secretary, World Peace Foundation, Dr Mohd Shafiq, Advocate Suhel Ahmed, Advocate Shekh Riaz Khan, Ashraf Mohd. Waraich and Naseem Ahmed Khan.


Revisiting history at Damdama Sahib
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 25
The tercentenary celebrations of the compilation of Guru Granth Sahib has raised the curiosity level among devotees about the relics and weapons of Guru Gobind Singh and they have started pouring in to catch a glimpse of the history.

The Tribune team today visited a couple of places around Takht Sri Damdama Sahib to meet the people, who have not only preserved pieces of history with great care for long but are always keen to display it to devotees flocking to their houses daily.

First among them are descendants of Bhai Dall Singh, who “accorded” a warm welcome to Guru Gobind Singh when he visited Talwandi Sabo in 1705.

Their residence, Bhai Dall Singh Niwas, located in the vicinity of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib is drawing hundreds of pilgrims daily. The family has a sword of Guru Gobind Singh having some Urdu words inscribed on it. It was presented to the Guru by a Muslim follower. They have also preserved some clothes of Mata Saheb Kaur apart from a couple of attires of the Guru, which they claim he wore during a battle with Mughal army in Muktsar.

One of the Guru’s attires also has some blood stains. Their another historical possession is possibly the smallest “bir” of Guru Granth Sahib in the world.

Ms Gurpal Kaur, who represents the 14th generation of Bhai Dall Singh, said “bir” measured 1.5 inches and could be read only with the aid of lenses.

A “hukamnama” noted down by their ancestors while the Guru was reciting it has also been put on display. It has a stamp of the Guru affixed on it.

Mr Harinder Singh, a resident of Teona Pujaria village, near Talwandi Sabo, has also taken great care of an ancient copy of Dasam Granth, apart from a couple of other scriptures.

He also possesses a “hukamnama”, which according to him, has a stamp of the Guru affixed on it. He claimed that one of his ancestors Jeet Singh had served at Takht Sri Damdama Sahib.

The takht too has an impressive collection of the relics. A Sri Sahib (big sword) and a stamp of Guru Gobind Singh, apart from a rifle, which was gifted to the Guru by Bhai Udai Singh from Lahore, are among the relics put on display.

A mirror, which was presented to the Guru by devotees from New Delhi, has also been kept and is widely known for its divine power in curing any facial deformity.

There is also a “saroop” (copy) of Guru Granth Sahib, which Baba Deep Singh had prepared from the original compilation.


Identity card must for casting vote
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 25
As per the recent guidelines of the Election Commission of India, the Election Voter Identity Card (EPICS) will be mandatory to cast the vote in the ensuing Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections, said Ms Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner.

She was addressing the rehearsal of the newly appointed Booth-Level Officers (BLOs) for the 78-Amloh and 79-Sirhind Assembly constituencies of the district at Sirhind and Mandi Gobindgarh towns respectively.

She said the process of making new voter Identity cards would start from September 1 in both constituencies of the district. She appealed to the people to get their Identity cards made if they did not have one or if they had lost the earlier card. She said this time BLOs had been appointed at each booth to assist the people and they would be responsible for the area falling under their polling booth jurisdiction.

She said people should take help of these BLOs and submit their request in the prescribed performa available with BLOs. The BLOs will forward the names of such people to the photographic teams and they will be photographed and get the identity card on the same day provided they have their name in the voter list.

She further said if anyone was caught manipulating the electoral rolls would be dealt with sternly. She said BLOs should bear in mind that no eligible voter should be left and no wrong person should be included in the list.


Three new bridges approved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 25
As many as three new bridges were approved at a meeting of the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) held here on Wednesday.

One bridge will be across the Sutlej at Makhu on the Nakodar-Makhu-Ferozepore road.

The second bridge will be at Ropar along the alignment of the new Ropar bypass and the third at Sarai Pattan also in Ropar. The PIDB will provide funding to the tune of Rs 54.23 crore.


Jalandhar man gets award
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 25
Mr Shetesh Vij of Jalandhar has been awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Shiromani Award by the Governor of Jharkhand. The award-giving ceremony was organised by the National Integration and Economic Council in New Delhi on August 19.


BKU plans dharna on August 30
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 25
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) today resolved to stage a dharna at the office of the Executive Engineer, Punjab State Electricity Board, on August 30.

A meeting of the union, presided over by Mr Gurmail Singh, district secretary, at Nehru Park here today alleged that the Congress government in Punjab had cheated the farming community, besides siphoning off crore of rupees in laying special lines on the pretext of supplying electricity to a cluster of villages for 24 hours.

The villagers were getting low-voltage supply only from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. in this region. This had thrown agro-based industries out of gear, the union said.

The BKU said in a resolution that Burajmuhar, Gobindgarh, Dhani Kadaka Singh and Bahawalbassi villages could have been connected with the 132-kV station here by lying only a 10-km line under the 24-hour power supply scheme but the authorities preferred to draw a 60-km line to connect these villages with Rattakhera substation. The union demanded a high-level probe into the alleged scam.


103 Inspectors promoted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 25
The Punjab Government today issued a notification to promote 103 Inspectors of the Punjab Police to the rank of DSP.

Issuing the order, the Home Secretary, Dr B.C. Gupta, said these promotions were without prejudice to the rights of the Inspectors senior to the officials, who had been promoted.

The promoted ones will be on probation for one year. The inter-se seniority of the officers will be decided later and this will be keeping in view the implementation of “Janjua judgments” and the 85th amendment to the Constitution and also the pending court cases.

It may be mentioned that the vacancies of the DSP had arisen as a large number of DSPs were promoted to the rank of SP.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Police has also prepared the case of promotions of 103 Sub-Inspectors to fill in the vacancies created by these promotions. Similarly, ASIs will be promoted to the rank of SI and the sequence of promotions will extend to the Head Constables who will be promoted as ASIs. In all, the Punjab Police will promote about 1,000 of its personnel before October this year.


Two youths nabbed for bank fraud
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 25
The police today arrested two youths for withdrawing Rs 10 lakh fraudulently from a joint account of Chandigarh-based doctor couple after stealing their debit cards.

In the past few days, 19-year-old youth Hem Karan alias Happy of Jhingri village in Anandpur Sahib and his relative Bipin Kumar Madhaupur in Nurpurbedi had withdrawn amounts from different ATMs of HDFC Bank in Chandigarh, Nangal, Nurpurbedi, Ropar and State Bank of Patiala in Anandpur Sahib and from several other places, the police said.

The accused after withdrawing the amount travelled Hardwar, Manikaran and Shimla. They also gave expensive gifts to their girl friends, said the police.

The police has recovered Rs 3 lakh, two mobile phones and a motorcycle from their possession so far. The debit cards recovered from the accused belong to Dr Vimal Bansal and his wife Dr Aruna Bansal, who have been running a nursing home in Sector-37, Chandigarh.

The youth had worked as a security guard at ATM of a bank in Chandigarh. He was aware of the functioning of ATM. It is believed that they have stolen the couple's debit cards from their clinic. Thereafter he along with Bipin had withdrawn amount from branches of various banks. At one time, the accused had withdrawn Rs 15,000 from the ATM, said the SSP, addressing a press conference in Anandpur Sahib this afternoon.

''We have arrested the accused after getting information about their activities from our informer. The doctor couple has not reported the matter to the Chandigarh Police so far. A case under Sections 379,406 and 420 of the IPC has been registered against the two youths in Anandpur Sahib.

It is yet to be ascertained that when the accused had stolen debit cards and when they started withdrawing amount. They were in police remand till August 28.


Woman murdered, brother hurt
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 25
Gurmit Kaur (40) was killed and her brother Sukhwant Singh (45) was seriously injured by unidentified persons at Adarsh Nagar village, 25 km from here, last night.

The police registered a case under Sections 302 and 307 of the IPC. According to information, some armed persons entered into the victims’ residence and attacked the victims who were asleep with sharp-edged weapons.

The victim’s family noticed the crime in the morning.


Data of colleges to be compiled
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 25
The Punjab Government is compiling data of all in the state. An exercise which has been undertaken for the first time, the 156 colleges in the state have been asked to give details of the functioning of the college.

The Director, Public Instructions (Colleges), Punjab, Mr Kanwarjit Singh, has issued information booklets to the government colleges at the first instance. The process of compiling the data is likely to take at least six months.

Colleges will be giving information about the courses run by them as also the add-on and self-financed courses being offered by them along with the number of students in these courses. The colleges will also provide data regarding the number of regular and part-time teachers, guest faculty, sanctioned posts and shortage of teachers, if any.

Stating that the his office does not have even the basic information about the colleges in the state, Mr Kanwarjit Singh said this would help in planning schemes for the colleges.

‘‘For example, we are now introducing a scheme to train students of third year for jobs in BPOs. If we have information about the colleges which already have computer labs we would be focusing first on these colleges,’’ he said.

The colleges have been asked to provide details about the infrastructure of the college, including the size of the building, class rooms, auditorium, hostels and sports facilities.

Colleges which have computer societies and internet facilities would give details of these and all colleges would also give details of the number of books in the libraries, seating capacity, book banks etc.

Mr Kanwarjit Singh added that colleges had been urged to also inform about the status of electricity bill and water bill payments, the annual budget and the aggregate of all the funds available with the college, excluding PTA and university funds details of which are not required to be given.


PM may lay stone of science institute
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 25
The Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, had a meeting with the management and faculty members of the National Institute of Science in Bangalore on August 23.

The objective was to study the basic structure and academic atmosphere of the first science institute of India so that the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research to be set up at Mohali could be modelled on it.

A spokesman of the Punjab Government said today that Prof P. Balaram, Director of the institute, Prof N. Balakrishnan, Associate Director, and faulty members welcomed the Deputy Chief Minister and made a presentation.

The proposed institute at Mohali will be the fourth after Bangalore, Kolkata and Pune.

The Deputy Chief Minister stated that the institute would have the main academic programmes in major areas in physical sciences, chemical sciences, life sciences and computer science. In addition, the institute would admit post-doctoral fellows. When fully functional, the total strength of the integrated M.Sc. programme in the institute would be 1,000 and of the doctoral and post-doctoral programmes about 1,055. Ultimately, the institute would, thus have a student strength of 2,055.

The Deputy Chief Minister further stated that a suitable site for the institute had been selected at Mohali. The total requirement of land for this project was 200 acres and the total project cost, other than that of land would be Rs 500 crore.


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