P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Panchayat makes HIV test must for marriages
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Karimpur (Nawanshahr), October 15
It is a decision that might surprise the tradition conscious. For others, it is a practical one and none too early. In a pioneering decision, the Karimpur village panchayat has decided to make HIV test mandatory for solemnising marriages of the village youths.

Considering the fact that the village has lost as many as eight persons to AIDS in the recent past, the decision is timely. The panchayat has also decided to set up a special laboratory for conducting HIV tests at subsidised rates. For those who cannot afford even subsidised rates, it will extend financial help.

The village has a population of around 8,000 persons. Most of its youth are truckers. As they remain away from their homes for longer periods, they often enter into illicit associations, says Mr Kulwant Singh, a former sarpanch.

Talking to The Tribune today, Mr Kulwant said they were planning to approach the state Health Minister to seek his assistance in setting up a special laboratory. Claiming to have conducted a survey in the area, he said, Jaithu Majara village was the worst-affected as more than 11 persons have died of AIDS there. Citing an example of an ITBP jawan from the village who was engaged to a girl from Sona village, he said the engagement was called off after it was found that the girl’s parents had died of AIDS.

In another case, Jodha Singh lost his trucker brother, Balbir Singh, and daughter-in-law, Pritam Kaur, to AIDS. Having driven a truck for over 15 long years, Jodha Singh claims his daughter-in-law acquired AIDS via an HIV-infected needle during delivery and the infection was passed to her husband. Apprehensive, he got his 12-year-old grandson, Avtar Singh, tested for AIDS. The result was negative. Avtar is now studying in sixth class.


Ex-wardens who caught SDM for poaching denied appointment
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 15
The Punjab Government after a gap of about two years has once again appointed honorary wildlife wardens in the state. However, not surprisingly, former wildlife wardens, Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa from Gurdaspur and Mr Gunraj Singh from Hoshiarpur, have been left out.

Both these wardens had caught the then SDM, Pathankot, Mr Puneet Goel, for poaching a peacock. It was because of their personal efforts that the challan has now been filed against the SDM in a Hoshiarpur court.

They had filed a complaint in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and collected incriminating evidence in the case. It was only on their petition that the court, in an order passed recently, directed the state government to file the challan in the SDM poaching case.

Mr Sukhdeep Bajwa and Gunraj Singh also checked the activities of many other poachers in the Shivalik belt of Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur districts. Due to their intensive patrolling, poaching cases in both districts had dropped by a great extent.

However, instead of awarding their effort, the Wildlife Department of the state did not extend their one-year stint as wildlife wardens.

For two years, the government did not appoint any wildlife warden fearing that Mr Bajwa and Mr Gunraj Singh might move court alleging that they are being discriminated against for having caught a bureaucrat for poaching.

Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa has also filed a Public Interest Litigation against the rapid depletion of forest cover in the state. He has alleged in the petition that the forest cover in the state has reduced to the lowest in the country according to the latest Forest Survey of India report.

Mr Gunraj Singh was recently booked on charges of poaching by the Wildlife Department. He has alleged that he was being targeted for opposing the government in the SDM poaching case and forest case.

When asked to comment on being left out as honorary wildlife warden, Mr Bajwa and Mr Gunraj Singh said this would not deter them from working against poachers.

The poaching season in the state is about to begin and they are ready to stop them, irrespective of the fact that the government gives them the authority for it or not. We can at least perform our duties as a common citizen, they said.

Those appointed honorary wildlife wardens in the state include Harminder Singh Khera (Tarn Taran) and Racchpal Chander (Fatehgarh Churian) for Amritsar, Mohan Jeet Singh Sidhu for Faridkot, Amardeep Singh Dhillon for Bhatinda, Sanjay Inder Singh Chahal (Patiala) and Birinder Singh (Chandigarh) for Fatehgarh Sahib, Gur Hardeep Singh (Guru Harsahai), Brig Amarjit Singh Bedi (Fazilka), Ram Kumar Bishnoi (Abohar), Satpal Niramia (Abohar) and Virender Kumar (Abohar) for Ferozepore district, Dr Rajan Saini (Pathankot) and Balbir Singh Mahal (Fatehgarh Churian) for Gurdaspur district, Jagdip Singh (Bacchoi) and Umar Daraj Khan (Tanda) for Hoshiarpur district, Davinderpal Singh Pali (Wadala) and Har Bahadur Singh Lali for Jalandhar, Jaswinder Singh Khaira (Bhulath) for Kapurthala, Dr Sandeep Kumar Jain and Jasbir Singh (Mujara) for Ludhiana, Ajitinder Singh Mofar for Mansa, Vijay Dhir (Kot Ise Khan) for Moga, Balbir Singh (Kandu Khera) for Muktsar, Harjit Singh Gill (Begumpur) and Major Manmohan Singh (Balachaur) for Nawanshahr, Rupinder Singh Sandhu for Patiala, Yuvraj Singh (Anandpur Sahib) and Gur Jatinder Singh Virk (Mohali) for Ropar and Jujjhar Singh (Bagrian) for Sangrur district.


Left, Lok Bhalai Party forge alliance
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 15
The Punjab units of the CPI, the CPI(M) and Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia's Lok Bhalai Party today forged a "United Front" to jointly contest the forthcoming state Assembly elections.

Announcing the decision at a joint press conference here, Mr Balwant Singh of the CPI(M), Mr Jagroop Singh of the CPI and Mr Ramoowalia said the Front would contest on 50 to 60 seats and would welcome like-minded parties opposed to the Congress and the SAD-BJP combine.

Those joining the Front will have to function within the laid-down parameters. Communal parties or their splinter groups would not be welcomed, said Mr Ramoowalia.

"We took the decision to jointly contest the elections at a meeting of the three parties held here on October 12. We discussed the prevailing political situation in the state and decided that any of our parties will have no alliance with the Congress. We will work for the defeat of the Akali-BJP," CPI(M) state secretary Balwant Singh said.

Asked about Punjab Congress President Shamsher Singh Dullo's indication that his party may have an alliance with the Left for the polls, Mr Balwant Singh and CPI's state Secretary Mr Jagroop Singh ruled out any such possibility.

Asked if their decision to contest the polls by opposing the Congress in Punjab would divide the "secular votes", the CPI(M) leader tried to evade a direct reply and added "the policies pursued by Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress regime have only strengthened the hands of communal forces".

Lok Bhalai Party President and former Union Minister, Mr Ramoowalia said they had identified some issues like corruption and unemployment. There were the problems being faced by the peasantry and issues pertaining to employees. These were the problems which they would work to redress.

Mr Jagroop Singh claimed that there was a sizeable segment of the state's population which did not go to vote and a majority of them were fed up with the Congress and the Akalis.

Mr Balwant Singh said it was carefully thought out decision not to enter into any alliance with the Congress in Punjab.


Action against Pinky after court orders, says Virk
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 15
Even as a court in Yamunanagar has held Punjab Police Inspector Gurmeet Singh Pinky, guilty of murdering a Ludhiana resident, the Punjab police has yet to start disciplinary proceedings against the cop.

“Punjab police is still awaiting the court orders. It is only after the orders are received that action will be initiated against the Gurmeet Singh,” the Director-General of Punjab Police, Mr S.S Virk told reporters here today when asked what action was taken against Pinky, popularly known as “encounter specialist.”

A Yamunanagar court had held Pinky, an inspector with Punjab police, guilty of murder of Avtar Singh Gola on September 30 and had issued non-bailable arrest warrants against him. The case was adjourned for October 17. The court was to pronounce the quantum of sentence for Pinky.

The Haryana police had constituted a special team on the directions of the court to arrest Pinky.


Artist Amolak Singh dies in sleep
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 15
Renowned artist, Amolak Singh (56) who worked for 14 years as Curator of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) and renovated the Central Sikh Museum in the Harmandar Sahib complex after Operation Blue Star , died in sleep at Batala, 40 km from here . He had worked as an artist from 1970 to 1974 in the Bollywood.

His body was brought to Amritsar - his place of birth and would be cremated tomorrow. His death came hours before the wedding of the brother-in-law of his daughter. He leaves a wife, two daughters and a son who is also an artist.

He had been honoured by different organisations and individuals for his work. His works used to be published in daily newspapers on a regular basis.

Amolak Singh had the honour of working under the guidance of Sobha Singh at Andreta (Himachal Pradesh) He had created more than 400 paintings. One can see his work at the Punjab & Sind Bank, PNB Finance, Bank of Punjab, Central Sikh Museum Amritsar, Baba Baghel Singh Museum Delhi, Bhai Mati Das Museum, Chandani Chowk, Delhi.

In 1980 Principal Satbir Singh renowned Sikh author brought him to Amritsar, where Amolak Singh was appointed Curator Artist in the Central Sikh Museum of Harmandar Sahib. He was the third person to be appointed to this post previously occupied by likes of Kirpal Singh artist and Master Gurdit Singh artist.

He worked there for 14 years and improved the Museum. This museum has around 100 of his paintings displayed. He also improved Baba Baghel Singh Museum within three years with new paintings. The year 2001 saw him working for Bhai Mati Das museum at Chandani Chowk in Delhi, where he also made effort in the building plan of the museum. His effort paid well and the result was the most wonderful museum in the Sikh history.

Mr Avtar Singh, president and other members of the SGPC mourning the death of Amolak Singh said that he made rich contribution to Sikhism by portraying the Sikh history with brush.

At present he was helping in set up a Sikh museum at Paonta Sahib by portraying Sikh history on canvas. Many organisations had honored him for his works. The SGPC Chief said the death of the artist had created a vacuum, which could not be filled for a long time. 


Bawa Budh Singh, a great scholar
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 15
Bawa Budh Singh, whose 75th death anniversary falls tomorrow, was a great Punjabi scholar and engineer.

Even giants of Punjabi world such as late Bhai Vir Singh and late Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha, who were his contemporaries, had recognised Bawa's contribution to Punjabi literature. They paid heartfelt tributes to Bawa Budh Singh following his death on October 16,1931 at Mayo Hospital in Lahore, where he was admitted after grave injuries he suffered in a car accident traveling from Amritsar to Lahore.

Punjab Department, which has published several works of Bawa Budh Singh, is all set to bring out a special issue of 'Punjabi Dunia', its literary journal, dedicated to him as a tribute on his 75th death anniversary.

Born on July 3, 1878, at Lahore, Bawa Budh Singh, was a 14th generation descendant of Guru Amar Dass.

After passing F.A.(intermediate) from Forman Christian (F.C.College), Lahore, he joined Roorkee Engineering College. He was appointed as Sub-Divisional Engineer at Lyallpur (now Faislabad) on passing Indian Service of Engineers (ISE) in 1902 at 24.

Bawa Budh Singh, whose literary career began in 1909 with the publication of " chander Hari", a play, has been described as a first critic, who adopted scientific approach in criticism and first original playwright of Punjabi literature.

In fact, Dr Usha Khanna, who had written in detail on his life and works, has established by forcefully arguing that he ( Bawa) was first Punjabi writer to discuss the doctrine and principles of literary criticism and a pioneer in research-based literary criticism.

He authored 13 books of plays, prose, poetry and criticism. These are: Hans Chog; Koli Ku; Daler Kaur; Werag Shatak; Niti Shatak; Shingar Shatak; Babiha Bol; Mundari Chal; Nar Naveli; Damini; Raja Rasalu and Prem Kahni.


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