Gulab Singh’s fort decaying 
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

About two-century-old fort of Sardar Gulab Singh, general in the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and descendent of Baba Deep Singh, at Povind village needs to be preserved. A symbol of heritage depicting the architecture of the forts of Punjab chieftains during the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh is decaying due to the neglect by owners and the government.

The left over fort had 30 rooms that have been divided by families of his descendents. None of descendent families now stays in the fort. The fort was decaying. Most of the gun holes in it have been closed and some changes have been affected to protect the building.

Old-timers said earlier the fort was surrounded by a number of similar buildings that provided extra protection to it. However, now all of them have been demolished. The fort also contains a protected well. They said during wars rival armies used to poison water sources in the area.

One of descendents of General Gulab Singh, Mr Jasindar Singh while talking to The Tribune said that they had tried to protect the building to their best. “We are also ready to hand it over to the government or the Archeological Survey of India for its preservation,” he said.

The place can also be converted into a heritage hotel. Besides the old fort depicting the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the place is also the birthplace of their ancestor Baba Deep Singh, who fought against the Mughals to avenge the desecration of the Harminder Sahib.

“We have also donated land for building a gurdwara of Baba Deep Singh in the village. The gurdwara is now being managed by an independent trust,” he said.

As per historical facts Sardar Gulab Singh was the son of Karam Singh, a brother of Baba Deep Singh. Karam Singh and his brothers were among the Sikhs who ruled the Doab area of Punjab in the latter half of the 18th century. In 1806 soon after Gulab Singh succeeded the estate, Maharaja Ranjit Singh conquered the Doab area. Gulab Singh retired to his native village Povind.

He then entered the service of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the rank of adjutant. He served with distinction at Nurpur and Kashmir. On the termination of the campaign, he was made the commandant and received Sidhu village in jagir. After the capture of Multan in 1818, he was promoted to the rank of colonel. In the next one year Maharaja Ranjit Singh granted him Akbarpur along with an elephant and other valuable as appreciation of his services.

Gulab Singh was stationed at Peshawar for some years. Here he fought battles against Ali Akbar Khan and Dost Muhammad Khan. In 1826 he received command of three infantry, two cavalry regiments and troop of horse artillery. In the same year his son Ala Singh entered the service and was made commandant under his father with an independent jagir.

When Maharaja Ranjit Singh Gulab Singh formed regular army was made the general. He held the rank through out his life up to the life of Kharak Singh.

In 1837, Gulab Singh was sent to Gujranwala by Maharaja Ranjit Singh with the orders to confiscate the property of Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa, who had been killed at Peshawar. His sons were fighting about the succession of their father. Gulab Singh drove Arjun Singh and Punjab Singh out of their fortified house and threatened to hang the former.

When Sher Singh, a son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh became the king, Arjun Singh seeking revenge attacked and burnt Povind where Gulab Singh resided.

The general fearing for his life fled to Jammu where he remained for sometime under the protection of Raja Gulab Singh.

Gulab Singh died in 1854. His great grand son remained an independent MLA from the Povind area. He had three sons, Autar Singh, Mohindar Singh and Jasindar Singh. However, none of them is in politics these days.



Panorama of Municipal Committee’s apathy
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

The state government must take back the Panorama from the Municipal Corporation and hand it over to an efficient body. The corporation has had a bad experience of handling the historical places like Moti Lal Nehru Library and the small zoo in the Ram Bagh, the summer palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Mr Gurinder Singh Johal, a resident of the city and a guide, while talking to the Amritsar Plus said according to a letter of the Council of Science Museum to the Museum and Cultural Affairs and Archaeological Department, Punjab, after completion the Panorama would have to be handed over to the Museum Department of Punjab (MDP). But, it was ultimately handed over to the corporation, which seemed inefficient to handle it properly, he added.

Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister, had laid the foundation stone of the project on November 18, 2001, to mark the bicentenary of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Three acres was earmarked by the Improvement Trust at “New Amritsar” for the project, but, later, the site had been shifted to the “protected area”. This raised many an eyebrow.

The Punjab Government had denotified a part of the historic Ram Bagh to pave the way for the construction of Rs 5-crore Panorama in the memory of the great Maharaja. Earlier, under the Punjab Ancient and Historical Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1964, Section 4, subsection 3, the entire Ram Bagh was declared a protected area (728 kanals, three marlas) in 1997. In the notification, the 20-kanal “protected” area was rendered “unprotected”.

Mr Johal said there were certain guidelines from the Council of Science Museum to handle the Panorama, which were being flouted by the corporation. As per the guidelines, the in charge of the project should possess postgraduate degree in the subject concerned, but the in charge of the Panorama was not well-versed with the subject. The keepers inside the Panorama should be trained well by the council, instead, they were being trained by the in charge only.

Air-conditioners installed in the Panorama remained off in summer as most of them were non-functional. Even the motor of the fire system was out of order, Mr Johal added.

There is a parking lot earmarked by the council, but people could be seen parking their vehicles on the roadside.

He said there was a set ruling for the opening and closure timings of the Panorama, but it remained open till 6 or 7 pm. Trees being planted alongside a hedge developed by the council threatened the landscape. The council had kept the rest of area for greenery, but the in charge grew vegetables for his own use in the garden, he added.



My City
Serving the scorned
Dr G.S. Bhalla

Pingalwara, Amritsar, a home for the homeless, destitute, crippled and neglected people of society is a unique institution. It was founded by Bhagat Puran Singh, a person undeterred by adversities, undaunted by neglect and criticism that often crop up on the path of social service. He carried on his selfless service to humanity for more than seven decades, day and night, in scorching heat and biting cold without any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed or religion.

He was really a Bhagat (a devotee), Puran (complete/whole) and a Singh (lion). The name reflects and suits his personality the best.

Though the Government of India awarded him with Padma Shri and few years ago issued a Postal Stamp on him, he did not get the recognition that he deserved. Here it is worthy of mention that Bhagat ji never cared for or attached any significance to such worldly awards. I saw Padma Shri virtually gathering dust at Pingalwara, Amritsar.

Recently, Guru Nanak Dev University established Bhagat Puran Singh Chair and the Vice-Chancellor, to the best of my knowledge, is in the process of fixing accountability of work done for each person that heads a particular Chair, an appreciable step.

Bhagat ji blessed me with a fresh lease of life. I used to have pain in my neck, which none of the medical doctors, I could afford, was able to cure. A frustrated me, one morning in the winter of 1990 reached Golden Temple to press upon Bhagat ji to pray for me and get me cured – for I had by then already suffering for more than a decade.

On not finding Bhagat ji, where he used to sit, at the entrance the Golden Temple, I went inside the temple to pay my obeisance. There I found a tall, towering personality of Bhagat ji standing at Dharshani Deori. I asked him to pray for me. He was reluctant as if he did not wish to interfere with the divine law. When I pressed further, his soft heart melted and he said, “The prayer has been made”.

On the third day I was completely relieved of the neck pain. At that moment he advised me to plant trees and pick up horse nails and banana peels from the road. Till day, I continue to do that.

Bhagat ji found his successor in Dr Inderjit Kaur, who is carrying on his mission from 1992 onwards. At present, Pingalwara houses more that 1,200 patients, including those suffering from AIDS, leprosy, TB and mental and physical disabilities. Pingalwara has established a school for deaf and dumb, artificial limb centre, a school of slum-children besides multifarious philanthropic activities being carried out by the Bhagat Puran Singh Pingalwara Society.

I have yet to meet a man greater than Bhagat Puran Singh. The sage of Pingalwara was to unattended, neglected people what Mother Teresa was to the poor and orphans of Kolkata. The difference was of resources and exposure. This is the opinion of Khushwant Singh about him.



Spare the rod and save the student
Tribune News Service

The scourge of corporal punishment was the violation of human rights that lead to aggressive behaviour resulting in conflicts, cheating, stealing and physical harm for solving minor differences on weak, younger, and competitors along with anti-social behaviour.

Dr Rakesh Sudan, a former professor in CMCH, Ludhiana, stated this at a seminar on “corporal punishments: Its effects and alternatives” organised under the aegis of Sarvodhya Schools at DAV Public School in Amritsar recently.

Dr Sudan, while enumerating various aspects of physical injury inflicted on students such as broken bones and bruised bodies, sought to highlight the debilitating psychological aspects of such punishments in view of the UN Charter of Human Rights of Child.

Prof Rajinder Kaur of the Department of Psychology, Guru Nanak Dev University, in her keynote address said attempts to regulate behaviour should be through proper classroom management and underlined the need to train teachers to improve the teaching process and disciplinary techniques instead of using primitive methods of punishment.

Ms Neera Sharma, Principal, DAV Public School, said education was not about distracting children from their potential by challenging “errant” behaviour by use of rod but channelising their energies into useful and progressive spheres of life.



Weekly Roundup
Students debate use of pesticides
Tribune News Service

As many as 20 students participated in a declamation contest on “Misuse of pesticide” at Khalsa College, Amritsar. The postgraduate zoology department of the college in collaboration with the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, Chandigarh, organised the contest.

Students elaborated on the harmful effects of pesticides like cancers, stomach ailments and eyesight problems besides negative impact on environment. Prabhjot of BSc (I), Nitika of MSc (II) and Barichi of BSc (I) were adjudged first, second and third, respectively, in the contest. Dr Jasbir Singh was the chief guest during the competition.

Bank branch: Federal Bank Limited opened its 517th branch in Amritsar on December 8.

Mr M. Venugopalan, Chairman and CEO, Federal Bank, in his presidential address said the bank had issued Global Depository Receipts/Shares. The Bank had 355 ATMs across 24 states.

Mr Surinder Kumar Laul, Deputy General Manager, welcomed the audience. Mr R.L Bhatia, Governor, Kerala, was the chief guest.

Training: The Save Planet Society organised a two-day organic farming training from December 7.

The training was sponsored by the Central Government under the national programme on organic farming. Twenty farmers were trained.

Launched: Jaycee Motors introduced Maruti’s new version Estilo car. The premium compact car with its stylish look and excellent interiors are available in three variants. 



Prepare for World Cup

Cricket in India is more of a passion now than a sport. Millions of Indians watch the game with great enthusiasm. As usual, they sat glued to their TV sets when during the recent Mini World Cup.

If the players don’t deliver, it hurts the sentiments of millions of their countrymen.

In my opinion, the consistently poor performance of Indian cricket players can be attributed to their extensive involvement in the advertising world rather than concentrating on the game.

Featuring in advertisements, no doubt, makes players rich, but they must not do it at the cost of the game that makes them celebrities in the first place.

One of the remedies can be that the BCCI puts a ban on players endorsing products.

If the players’ performance continues to be indifferent, cricket buffs may retaliate and boycott the products they endorse. Another reason for non-performance of players, I feel, is biased selection. Selectors choose undeserving players sometimes under political pressure.

We also lag behind in hunting for new talent at the grassroot level and giving good exposure to the budding players so that they learn how not to succumb under pressure.

India with a flourishing economy can afford to have world-class pitches and grounds and equipment.

In view of the forthcoming World Cup, it’s high time that the BCCI got down to the business of improving the performance of the Indian team by evolving concrete strategies.

— Gautam Sharma



Elderly bond, drive away loneliness
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

With the intention of driving away their loneliness and feeling of neglect by others, including family members, and keeping in mind their comfort in the twilight phase of their life, senior citizens of Amritsar have formed an association.

The members of the Amritsar Senior Citizens Association, a brainchild of Mr Kartar Singh Sethi, who later shifted to New Delhi, lead a hassle-free life in conducive atmosphere, revive their lost spirits and exchange their thoughts and experiences with those that share their same vibes. Occasional programmes to keep the frail citizens happy and relaxed were organised.

Every Sunday, the members gather at a canteen of the railway station and have breakfast, says Mr Tarlochan Singh, senior vice-president of the association.

Mr Sham Singh Ahuja, president, said the members meet daily at Ram Bagh gardens, the Summer Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He said after brief morning walk the members share their happiness and sorrows while enjoying a cup of tea. “We discuss family problems and try to find out solutions,” he said.

Mr P.C. Mahajan, chairman, said they also celebrate birthdays and marriage anniversaries of the members and presented them with bouquets. They also arranged a get together for the members and their families on the last Friday of the each month over dinner. He said during the marriage and other function they set up a separate table for the members.

He said they spend their time in walking, joking and laughing. He said each member could talk freely in his own style and express his view openly but never discussed politics or religion which was the main policy of the association.

Mr Mahajan said they also helped the needy students with books, free medicines or any other assistance. He said the association also contributed to the Prime Minister’s natural calamity.

Besides Mr Ahuja, Mr Mahajan and Mr Trilochan Singh, the other members of the association include Mr N.D. Arora, Mr S.N. Vasudeva, Mr Harbhajan Singh, Mr Devinder Singh Arora, Mr M.S. Dhillon, Mr M.S. Luthra, Mr C.L. Sharma, Mr S.N. Vij, Mr P.S Grover, Mr S.S. Khurana, Mr Balwinder Singh and Mr Jaspal Singh.

Mr Dhillon, who is also member of the Rotary Club Amritsar South East, said recently the rotary club in collaboration with the association had organised a senior citizens night in which the members were apprised about how to reduce the risk of medication-related problems. 



Science show by rural students
Our Correspondent

The Nishan-e-Sikhi Charitable Trust, Khadur Sahib, organised an inter-district science exhibition to inculcate scientific temperament among rural children at Baba Gurmukh Singh Uttam Singh Senior Secondary School.

As many as 70 participants from different schools of Tarn Taran and Amritsar districts exhibited their models related to ancient and modern technologies.

Dr Surjit Singh Dhillon, a consultant with the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, Chandigarh, inaugurated the exhibition.

The competitions were divided into three categories: elementary, secondary and senior secondary. Students of the participating schools also organised a cultural programme.

In the beginning, the Principal of the host school, Ms Jaspal Kaur, welcomed renowned personalities, guests and the chief guests of the function. Apart from the chief guest other renowned personalities present in the function were Baba Sewa Singh, president of the managing committee, Mr Gursharanjeet Singh, DEO (Elementary), Mr Pyara Singh, DEO (Secondary), Dr Raghubir Singh Bains, author of encyclopedia of Sikhism, Dr Kulbir Singh Bath, a senior scientific officer with the PSCST, and Mr Gurdeep Singh, District Science Officer.

Dr Dhillon distributed prizes among winners. While addressing the gathering, Dr Dhillon emphasised the need of sustainable development of society.

The results of the exhibition are: Urban: Banvin Kaur of Shahid Bhagat Singh School, Patti, (1); Deepika Sharma of Shahid Bhagat Singh School, Patti, (2); and Ravinder Singh of Guru Har Krishan Public School, Patti, (3).

Rural: Ravinder Singh of Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa School, Sarhali, and Navjot Kaur of the host school first; and Amandeep Kaur of GSSS, Goindwal, and Mandip Singh of Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa School, Sarhali, second.



Wired mohalla
Charanjeet Singh

Even Spider Man would not dare entering Churae Wala Bazar adjoining Guru Bazar. The web of electricity, telephone, and cable TV network wires is such inter-woven there that shopkeepers and residents of the locality live under a constant threat of fire due to a short-circuit.

The Punjab State Electricity Board, the BSNL and the local cable TV operators do not pay any heed to the complaints of residents in this regard.

As Guru Bazar is part of old walled city, lanes here are very narrow. In this locality shops are on the ground floor and first floor is used for residential purposes. The overhead electric wires pass parallel to the windows of homes. Residents said an accident was waiting to happen in the locality. Mr Prem Lal Sahdev, chairman, Swarn Kar Sangh, who runs a shop in the market, said the locality had only 10-inche sewer pipes. Those failed to hold water in the rain, resulting in flooding of streets. The overhead live electricity wires and stagnant water in streets make the most deadly combination of threat to human lives.



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