P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Turban stands out in French folk parade
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 23
Though the French authorities have banned students from sporting religious symbols, including the turban, in French schools, the French people still accord full respect to turbaned Sikhs.

They are also “aware that Sikhs are an integral part of the world mainstream” and that their turbans are symbols of spirituality and a distinct identity of the Sikh community.

This was revealed by Mr Davinder Singh Chinna, Director of the Ludhiana-based Punjab Cultural Promotion Council (PCPC) and a member of the International Sport Cultural Association (ISCA), based at Copenhagen in Denmark.

Mr Chinna was part of a team from Punjab that participated in the 47th Festival International De Folklore De Montrejeau, in France last month. The team also toured a number of European countries, including Spain, to promote Punjab heritage and Sikh culture.

Mr Parminder Singh Nona, a choreographer, Mr Bhupinder Singh Vicky, Mr Ropan, Mr Vikramjit Singh, Ms Paramjit Kaur, Ms Amandeep Singh Saimbhi, Ms Pooja and Ms Navjot Kaur Sandhu, were the other members of the team. Mr Emil Dimitrov, Overseas coordinator of the PCPC (Europe Chapter), was also part of the team.

“Common French people, students and artistes showed full respect to the turbaned youth from Punjab. We believe that their response to the turban will convince the French authorities about the dignity of the turban and to realise that the French government decision on the turban needs to be reconsidered,”said Mr Chinna.

He further added that ‘“Turle Walian Paggan stood out among nearly 500 participants from France, Turkey, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Brittany, Spain, Scotland, Israel, Itlay and other countries during the international folk parade, organised on the ocassion”.Claiming that he was awarded with a Diploma D’ Honneur by the French government for his role in international cooperation and efforts towards strengthening of international friendship and peace, he said: “I believe that common French people are intensely tolerant and my chats with them revealed that they had nothing against the turban.” 


Nawanshahr DC gets honesty award
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 23
Thousands of devotees today took part in a nagar kirtan that marked the culmination of the week-long annual Baba Farid Mela here today.

The day also witnessed Nawanshahr Deputy Commissioner being awarded with Baba Farid Award for Honesty. The chairman of Gurdwara Godri Sahib Baba Farid Society, Mr Inderjeet Singh Khalsa, presented him the award at Gurdwara Godri Sahib.

The award carries Rs 51,000 in cash, a shawl and a citation.

Meanwhile, a kavi darbar, was organised on the eve of concluding day of the mela. The Literary Forum put up the sixth Baba Farid Kavi Darbar at Amar Ashram. Poets who participated in it included Rabinder Masroor, Surjeet Judge, Jagwinder Yodha, Prof Sadhu Singh, Channa Rani Walia and Dayal Singh Saki. Tarksheel Mela showcased plays like Bhand Matka Chowk, Mein Phir Awanga and Injh Nahi Wasde Wede apart from a couple of choreographies sensitising people on social evils like female foeticide. Ex-minister Avtar Singh Brar announced Rs 11,000 each for organising the mela every year.


Nirman funds going down the drain
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, September 23
The usage of Punjab nirman funds in the area has come under question. The funds being provided by the Punjab Government are being allegedly misused in the city by local bodies, including the Pathankot Improvement Trust and the municipal council.

The local MLA, Mr Ashok Sharma, had distributed about Rs 2 crore as nirman funds to both bodies for implementation of development programmes. Both organisations have spent almost 70 per cent of the amount on concrete flooring.

The Pathankot Improvement Trust was given about Rs 1 crore by the local MLA. The trust authorities, which have just one Junior Engineer at their disposal, have exhausted the funds in just four months.

In many cases, well-laid concrete streets were dug up despite protests by residents and made concrete again, a sheer wastage of funds. The life of a concrete street is around five years. However, well-laid streets laid by the council just a year or two back were dug up by the trust authorities and re-laid, causing inconvenience to residents, besides wasting public money.

The council, in the recent past, had given concrete flooring works at the rate of Rs 1,200 per cubic metre whereas the Improvement Trust got the same work done at the rate of Rs 2,000 per cubic metre.

Sources said the difference in rates was the handiwork of contractors and the officials concerned.

A contractor had recently challenged the tender process of the municipal council in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He had alleged that in recent works being carried out by the council using nirman funds, he was not even given a tender form. The high court, while granting an interim stay to the contractor, has directed the council to issue him the tender form.

BJP leaders, including Mr Rakesh Sharma, today alleged large-scale corruption in usage of nirman funds. He said if voted to power, his party would order an inquiry into the matter.

Due to wrong polices of the implementing agencies, development works had got tangled in legal wrangles, he alleged. Municipal and trust engineers executing the work were not available for comment.

The Executive Officer of the council said they would stick to the court decision.


Delay in passport ‘spoils’ youth’s career
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 23
After passing plus two exam, Gursewak Singh Mian opted for IELTS coaching in Chandigarh hoping to gain admission to a professional course in Australia, but the alleged delay by the Regional Passport Office in issuing passport to him has ‘spoiled’ his career.

Talking to The Tribune here today, his father Balbir Singh Mian, who is a clerk in the PRTC, said he had submitted his son’s passport application at the mini-secretariat on April 13 and the same was dispatched by the DC office along with CID and police verification on May 12 through registered parcel No 1300 to the Regional Passport Office, Chandigarh.

He lamented that even after over four months of receiving the application, the passport office had failed to issue a passport to his son, who has already lost a precious year of his career.

Internet enquiries of the passport status only yielded responses like “file number wrong” or “police verification not received.”

He claimed that he visited the passport office four times in the last couple of months and only got a standard reply every time, “It is under process.”

He said he was not allowed to meet the Passport Grievances Officer or the Regional Passport Officer. “What for the grievances officer is sitting there if people are not permitted to meet him?” he wondered.

The PRTC clerk, who is in his late 50s, said despite his poor health, he had to stand for four hours in a queue to enquire about the status of his son’s passport at the office.

He had also taken up the matter with the PRO at the passport office, who reportedly told him, “I can’t do anything in it and you better visit Room No 8 whenever you come to the office again.”


A clarification
Tribune News Services

Chandigarh, September 23
Reacting to a news-item “Governor gives awards to 14 teachers” carried in these columns on September 8, a Ludhiana resident, Mr Ranjit Singh, has clarified that his wife, Ms Amarjit Kaur Bhanohar, honoured with state-level award for excellence in service, is the Headmistress of Bhai Ishar Singh Memorial Government Secondary School, Bhanohar, Ludhiana district.

In a communication to The Tribune on Ms Bhanohar’s behalf, he has added that the award recipient has been serving in different schools for the past 33 years.

The examination results of the institutes she has worked with have always been “excellent”. Besides this, she managed to collect huge amounts for the development of the school in Bhanohar from the general public, and the school itself is a “reflection of her hard work, determination and dedication”. 


Homage paid to 1965 war martyrs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 23
Army’s 15 Infantry Brigade paid homage to martyrs of the 1965 Indo-Pak war at the 41st Dograi Day held at Dograi War Memorial in the New Amritsar military station at Khasa here yesterday.

Major-Gen K.M.S. Shergill, General-Officer-Commanding (GoC) of the 15 Infantry Division, laid a wreath at the war memorial.

General Shergill said the battle of Dograi was probably the hardest fought battle of the 1965 Indo-Pak war. Dograi Township, which was situated on the eastern bank of the Ichogil canal in Pakistan, was captured by the Indian forces. The operation commenced at the night of September 5 near the Wagah border post. Undeterred by counter-attack, the Indian brigade captured Dograi on September 22.

The enemy suffered heavy casualties as 509 Pakistanis were killed, 400 wounded while 100 were taken prisoners.

Three Jats were decorated with Battle Honour of Dograi. Out of 16 officers, five attained martyrdom and 11 were wounded. Seventysix Indian soldiers laid down their lives in the action while 147 were injured.

For the heroic deed, 54 Infantry Brigade was honoured with three Mahavir Charkas, eight Vir Charkas, 15 Sena Medals and 10 Chief of Army Staff commendation cards and 33 mention-in-despatches.

Deputy General Officer Commanding, 15 Infantry Division Brig Raghu Kapoor and other Army officers also paid homage to the martyrs. Jawan reversed their arms as mark of respect.


Langoorwala mela begins
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 23
Thousands of devotees arrived here today to pay obeisance at the internationally famous langoorwala mela, which started with enthusiasm and fanfare at Durgiana Temple.

The ancient temple (Bara Hanuman Prachin Mandir) in the Durgiana complex is visited annually on this unique occasion by devotees from far-flung areas in the country as well as abroad. The temple has a natural idol of Lord Hanuman in a sitting position.

Childless couples, whose wish has been fulfilled, don the garb of langoors at the beginning of the navratras and strictly follow rituals as thanksgiving and seek the blessings of the deity for the birth of the child.

Dressed in bright red outfits, they dance to drum beats during the navratras in a procession.

The mela especially attracts childless couples from the world over and those desiring a male child to seek the blessings of the deity.

Legend has it that Lord Hanuman was tied to a banayan tree by Luv and Kush, sons of Lord Rama, when they captured Him.

The mela concludes with the Dasehra festival when the devotees take off their langoor outfits near the banyan tree and women gifted with a child untie threads on the ancient tree.


Classical singer couple regales
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 23
Classical singer couple Shantanu Bhattacharya and Durga Bhattacharya regaled the audience at a music function organised in Sri Aurobindo International School here by the Sri Aurobindo Society late last night.

Shantanu Bhattacharya, known as doyen of the Patiala gharana gayaki and for his excellent performances in India and abroad, kept the audience spellbound with his singings in different ragas.

Ms Vineeta Tandon, Principal of the school, said the function went well and got applause from those, who attended it.

Mr S. K. Alhuwalia, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, presided over the function. Mr K. Pawan, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society, was also present.


2 murderers sentenced for life
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 23
A woman and her paramour were sentenced to life imprisonment by a local court today for the killing of Jaswant Singh, the woman’s husband in 2004. Both accused Surinder Kaur of Dhaulomal and Jaswinder Singh of Raipur Sahani were also fined Rs 5000 each.

The accused had brutally murdered Jaswant Singh and later dumped his body in a canal in Anandpur Sahib.

Jaswant Singh and Surinder Kaur had gone to attend a marriage in January 2004. But Surinder Kaur returned home alone.

Later, the police had recovered a body of Jaswant Singh from the canal with multiple injuries. 


Providing funds for new roads!
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, September 23
It seems strange but true, the state government has been providing abundant funds for the newly constructed and well-maintained roads, even though a number of roads in the district are crying for repair for want of funds.

It is learnt from the reliable sources that funds to the tune of about Rs. 15 crore under the World Bank project have been sanctioned for the maintenance of the Phillaur-Rahon road and the Khanna-Samrala-Rahon- Nawanshahr road, which do not need even any patch work.

According to the available information, the Phillaur-Rahon road was constructed under NABARD scheme in October 2005 and June 2006 and the Khanna-Samrala-Rahon-Nawanshahr road was constructed during 2002-04 by Punjab Infrastructure Development Board.

These roads have reportedly been transferred to Central Works Division, Ludhiana, under World Bank project.


Clerk posted at DIG office killed by gunshot

Amritsar, September 23
Mystery shrouds the death of Varinder Kumar, an assistant clerk posted at the DIG office who was reportedly killed by an accidental gun shot at his residence in the Namak Mandi area today.

According to information, Varinder Kumar was reportedly cleaning the pistol when the incident took place. Mr Kaustubh Sharma, SP (city-I) when contacted confirmed the incident. He, however, added that it could not be ascertained about the exact cause of the incident at this point of time. — OC


Dr Khush to be honoured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Dr Gurdev Singh Khush, eminent agricultural scientist, who served for several years at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, will be honoured with the Dr Amrik Singh Cheema Award on Sunday at the kisan mela at Rakhra, near Patiala, by the Young Farmers Association, Punjab.

Dr Khush is known as one of the heroes of the Green Revolution that led to the doubling of food production in the country in a short span of 30 years. After his education at Punjab Agricultural University and the University of California, Davis, Dr Khush joined the rice research institute in the Philippines in 1967 where he served as Head of the Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biochemistry Division till 2002.

Mr Bhagwan Dass, secretary-general of the association, said Dr Khush spearheaded the institute’s rice- breeding programme for 35 years. High-yielding rice varieties with disease and insect resistance and superior quality grain developed under his leadership are grown on 60 per cent of the world’s riceland. As a result of the wide-scale adoption of these varieties, rice production increased 135 per cent between 1967 and 2000, from 257 million tonnes to 600 million tonnes and most of the major rice-growing countries became self sufficient in food production.

Another significant contribution of Dr Khush is the training of numerous rice scientists from all over the world. His contribution to rice genetics and biotechnology are equally well recognised. He has written three books, more than 80 book chapters and 160 research papers.

He has been consultant to rice-breeding programmes in 15 countries as well as Rockefeller Foundation, the Third World Academy of Sciences, Italy, and the International Science Foundation, Sweden. He is now serving as a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Department of Biotechnology, Union Government, and member of the Science Council, an advisory body to the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing.

For his monumental contributions to world food security, Dr Khush has been honoured with many awards such as the Japan Prize (1987), the World Food Prize (1996), the Rank Prize (1998), the Wolf Prize (2000), the International Scientific and Technological Cooperation Award from the Government of China (2001) and the Padma Shri.


ITI employees protest against privatisation
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 23
Hundreds of employees of state government-run polytechnics and industrial training institutes (ITIs) today took out a march from Chhoti Baradari garden to the private residence of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to lodge their protest against the decision of Punjab Government to hand over these institutes to private societies.

The employees, who also held a rally under the banner of the Punjab Polytechnic Staff Association, Joint Action Committee, also took a pledge in front of the statue of freedom fighter and Parja Mendalist Sewa Singh Thikhriwala that they would continue their agitation till the state government withdrew its “anti-employee, anti-people and anti-Punjab” decision.

Addressing the rally, Mr Gurbakshish Singh, president of the association, said the action of state government had made technical education a distant dream for the commoners on one hand and on the other hand it had affected the employees adversely.

The private societies, which have been entrusted with these institutions, would run the same for profit and would raise the fee structures. He added that it would put the future of Punjabi youths, who wanted to take technical education to get employment and to generate self-employment, in jeopardy. The societies would also fail to maintain the quality of education in these institutions.

Mr Jasvir Singh, general secretary of the association, said instead of handing over these institutions to private societies, the state government should fill all the vacancies so that the youth could be educated in a better way to enable them to get employment in any part of the country.

Mr S. P. Singh, secretary of the association, said the Punjab Government had handed over these institutions to private societies as it was eyeing on the land and other infrastructures worth thousands of crores of rupees of the same. He said the Punjab Government was well aware of the fact that the government-run ITI had been charging a fee of Rs 3,500 only from the student while the private ITI had been charging Rs 12,000.

The leaders of the association said if the state government did not do any thing on their demands, they would meet Congress President Sonia Gandhi to explain to her about the things which had been happening in Punjab. 


Twin varsities in service of farmers
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 23
Despite separate identities, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University still retain several similar characteristics of Siamese twins. This was evident from the interest the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, showed in crop husbandry and dairy farming here on Thursday.

On the traditional 4-km kisan mela route, if Capt Amarinder Singh showed interest in BT cotton and made unscheduled stops to talk to farmers to get feedback, he wanted scientific milking to be introduced as part of the state government’s dairy farming promotion scheme.

The Chief Minister concurred with the arguments of the PAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, demanding an assured market and remunerative prices for crops like maize, considered the most effective alternative to paddy. Similarly, he enquired from the Vice-Chancellor of the veterinary university, Mr D.S. Bains, why milking machines could not be subsidized from the funds available and popularised as part of the state’s dairy development programme.

In fact, so intertwined are agriculture and dairy farming that the sea of farmers that flowed through the university’s arteries forgot they were getting advice from two different universities. The blend of agriculture and animal husbandry on one side and that of agriculture and culture on the other added a new dimension to this biannual feature.

The Chief Minister holds the portfolio of Agriculture and his Cabinet colleague, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, looks after Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development, Fisheries and Tourism. Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Kang and the two Vice-Chancellors joined hands to be in the “service of the farmers”.

It was interesting to see the two sister universities march in step to reach out to the farmers, who heard the All India Radio Dihati Programme live from the PAU premises at 6.30 pm yesterday.


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