P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Turncoat Marar rejoins SAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Two days after the announcement of elections in Punjab, Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Marar, who had won the last Assembly elections from Muktsar as an Independent candidate, today announced that he has resigned from his Vidhan Sabha seat and also quit the Congress to re-join the Parkash Singh Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal. Though this may come as a bolt from the blue for the Congress which had nurtured him in the past 12 months or so, this is the fourth known political flip-flop of Mr Marar in the past five years. At present he was an associate member of the Congress in the House.

In the 2002 elections, he was in the race for a SAD ticket which was eventually offered to Mr Harnipal Singh Kuku. On being denied the ticket, Mr Marar did his first flip and left the SAD to contest as an Independent. He went on to win for the first time. In the process, he also defeated former Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar.

In August 2003, he rejoined the SAD. His stay in SAD ended when he joined the Congress about an year ago. His fourth political flip came today when he joined the SAD in the presence of Mr Sukhbir Badal at a press conference here.

Explaining the reasons for leaving the Congress, Mr Marar said: “ I am fed-up with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, as he was inaccessible”. He added that he could not support any party which was responsible for beating up farmers hence he was leaving the Congress.

Mr Marar went on to claim:“ Today I have not joined the SAD on the promise of getting a party ticket from Muktsar”. He went to allege that a senior IAS officer was collecting money on behalf of the Chief Minister. When pressed by mediapersons if he had any evidence to link the bureaucrat to the allegation, Mr Marar admitted: “ I do not have any evidence to link him”.

Replying to another question that if he joined the ruling Congress to seek some personal favours for his family, Mr Marar said :‘I have never raised personal issues and was not promised help on any such personal matter by the Congress” Meanwhile, according to sources a couple of weeks ago, the ruling Congress government had ordered the cancellation of cases lodged against Mr Raj Balwinder Singh, a son of Mr Marar. He was facing cases for serious offences. The court concerned is yet to accept the report of the Punjab Police, seeking the cancellation of cases against Raj Balwinder, who is an inspector with the Punjab Police.

At the press conference, Mr Sukhbir Badal said “ We are a party of honest people and Congress will loose the next elections”. He said if the SAD comes to power it would ensure that the police was not brutal and inhuman.



Estranged son to contest against Henry
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
Industries Minister, senior Congress leader and MLA from Jalandhar North, Avtar Henry may face his estranged son, Gurjeet Singh this time. Mr Gurjeet is believed to be among the candidates shortlisted by the Bharatiya Janata Party for the Jalandhar North Assembly segment.

Mr Gurjeet said here today that he was ready to contest against his father, Mr Avtar Henry from Jalandhar north. He asserted he was the best candidate to challenge Mr Henry from the constituency which he had represented for two consecutive terms. He claimed the BJP, which gets Jalandhar north in the seat sharing agreement with the Shiromani Akali Dal, so far had not been able to put up a suitable candidate against his father that led to his two consecutive wins from there.

Mr Gurjeet claimed, he had been handling election campaign of his father earlier. Refusing to give reasons for differences with his father, Mr Gurjeet said, it was politics and nothing else. He said, he knew every voter in the constituency. He said, even if he were not fielded by the party, he would campaign for the party and against his father.

On the other hand, Mr Henry refused to comment on the development. He remarked “Obviously someone would definitely contest against me”. When asked, if it were his estranged son, Gurjeet, he said, “no comments”.

Mr Henry’s son, Mr Gurjeet is married to the daughter of a Ludhiana-based transporter, Mr Fateh Singh Libra. However, after his marriage Mr Gurjeet separated from his father. Mr Gurjeet has been denied share from transport business run in the name of Kartar Transport and Kartar Bus Service by Mr Henry.

Mr Gurjeet and his wife had made a representation to Congress president Ms Sonia Gandhi and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh after 2002 elections, that had led to Mr Henry initially being denied a berth in the ministry.

Supported by his father- in-law, Mr Libra, Mr Gurjeet set up independent business in Ludhiana. In 2002 they (Mr Libra and Mr Gurjeet) tried to ensure that Mr Henry was not inducted into the ministry. Mr Libra so far maintained distance from active politics. He is related to former Finance Minister and senior Akali leader, Capt Kanwaljit Singh.


Punjabi culture as rich as any other in world, says expert
Roopinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
“We will soon have an important resource to study Punjabi through the Internet,” says the kurta-pyjama-clad professor from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), who is on a trip to Punjab, once again to serve his mother tongue.

“I was invited to attend the inauguration of the World Punjabi Centre, Punjabi University, Patiala,” says Prof Gurinder Singh Mann, Founder-Director of the Center for Sikh and Punjab Studies at the UCSB.

Professor Mann has devoted the past 15 years to the field of Sikh and Punjab studies. “While teaching Punjabi, I felt the need to create a sound resource on the teaching of Punjabi as a foreign language. Working with Gurdit Singh, Gibb Schreffler, and Ami P. Shah, I recently completed a book, An Introduction to Punjabi: Grammar, Readings, Conversation, and Literature. We are also turning this book into an offering on the Internet, where people studying anywhere in the world can register with the UCSB and learn Punjabi,” says Professor Mann.

Professor Mann edits and oversees the publication of the Journal of Punjab Studies, which has now shifted to the UCSB. The latest issue is impressive in its selection, depth and presentation. It focuses on 20th century Punjabi poetry, and has 53 poems in Gurmukhi, along with their English translations. Eminent poets, from both East and West Punjab, have contributed articles.

Professor Mann is usually in Chandigarh every June when he brings in participants of the summer programme in Punjab Studies. Since its inception in 1997, it has attracted 138 students from 55 universities in nine countries.

Mann says that the language and culture of the region is in a state of radical transition. Punjab is are under the sway of the forces of urbanisation and globalisation. “I have no doubt that Punjabi culture is as rich as any other culture in the world and some of the Punjabi poets are simply great. No one can beat Shiv Kumar in the creation of verbal tapestries,” maintains Professor Mann.

He hopes that local scholars will work towards understanding and interpreting the Punjabi culture in Punjabi terms and not in categories created in Europe and North America. Coming from a scholar trained at the University of Canterbury, England; Columbia University and Harvard University in North America, all this sounds rather intriguing. For Professor Mann, however, there is no contradiction. “I learnt the methodologies there but have been working primarily with Punjabi source during the past decade or so,” he says.

Professor Mann’s scholarly works include The Goindval Pothi, The Making of Sikh Scripture, and Sikhism. He is now working on An Introduction to Sikhism, which is being published by Cambridge University Press, UK

Professor Mann has also been associated with Pluralism Project at Harvard University and the Sikh Heritage Project at Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C. He has been recently nominated to the prestigious American Society of the Study of Religion.

Born and brought up in Punjab, teaching in the US, committed to his roots and sharing his Punjabi heritage, Professor Mann has with his commitment and integrity, carved out a unique role for himself.


Tribune Impact
NRI’s New Year gift for 70-year-old cart-puller
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 31
His story had moved Indians settled abroad help for Deewan Singh, a cart-puller in his 70s, first came from a US-based good Samaritan after almost 15 months of the news report carried in The Tribune. “I couldn’t have asked for more on the New Year eve. It has wiped out my bad memories of the year gone by,” said an ecstatic septuagenarian.

Mr Ramneet Singh, an NRI hailing from Kapurthala, called up this correspondent last evening and conveyed that his friend, Mr Shiv Partap Gill, who works as a security officer in a private firm in California, has sent some money for Deewan Singh. He travelled all the way to Bathinda today and handed him over Rs 20,000 in cash at his Gangaram Gali residence. Deewan Singh, who ekes out a living by transporting goods on his hand-pulled cart, could not believe his luck. His two sons had separated from the family leaving him and his wife to fend for themselves. He told he was facing severe financial crisis, as ailments and old age were not allowing him to pull the cart for the past couple of months. “I never thought that a newspaper report will bring me such huge financial gain and that too when I needed it the most,” he averred with tear in his eyes. The Tribune had carried a news item: ‘At 70, he pulls cart to earn a living’ on September 22 last year, following which some newspapers in Canada had also highlighted his plight. He said he would deposit the amount in his bank account tomorrow and utilise it for the repair of his mud house and his medical care. His wife, Sewi Kaur, told the NRI: “Your help will go a long way in the taking care of our needs in twilight years of our lives.” Ramneet Singh left with a word of caution for the elderly couple: “Utilise the amount carefully and lead the rest of your life in happiness.”


Poll announcement spurs political activity
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh December 31
The announcement of Punjab elections has spurred political activity in Chandigarh's periphery. With the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), riding on the wave of anti-incumbency, releasing the first list of 62 candidates, the candidates and their supporters have started the mass contact programme in a bid to woo the electorate for the February 13 elections.

In fact, taking a lead, SAD had got into action in the right earnest in the Banur assembly segment from where the old Akali warhorse and former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, is trying his luck again. Though the Congress is yet to decide on its candidates various aspirants have also got into the election mode and started lobbying with the senior leaders at the state and central level.

Virtually kicking off the election campaign of his father, Mr Jasjeet Singh Bunny, general secretary of the youth wing of SAD, held a workers' meeting at Lalru. Addressing the meeting, Mr Bunny called upon the electorate to throw out the "corrupt and inefficient" Amarinder Singh government which had compromised on the interests of the state at every stage.

Predicting a win for the SAD-BJP alliance, Mr Bunny urged the youth Akali workers to gear up for the poll, which would prove to be a watershed in the history of Punjab.

On December 29, the youth wing, during a show of strength, had demanded allocation of Rajpura assembly seat to SAD. It may be recalled that the sitting Congress MLA, Mr Raj Kumar Khurana, had recently joined the BJP and the seat had gone to the BJP under the seat-sharing arrangement, which had brewed strong resentment among the Akali workers.

In the wake of its proximity to Chandigarh, the Rajpura and Banur assembly segments had assumed importance with several senior Congress leaders eyeing the seats. While there are at least no official claimants from these two seats in the BJP-SAD alliance, race for seats is set to hot up in the Congress.

From the Banur assembly segment alone, there seemed to be many claimants. Besides, Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, vice-chairman of the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC), who is also the in charge of the Congress from the Banur assembly segment, the PPCC general secretary, Ms Seelam Sohi, other claimants are also aspiring to contest from this seat.

Similarly, after Mr Khurana's exit from the Congress, there is no unanimity among the Congress on the name of the party candidate from Rajpura. All eyes are set on the party high command for the distribution of party tickets as the party is often known for "ignoring" grassroots level leaders and fielding "outsiders" from several constituencies, a senior Congress leader, added.




CBI probe raises questions
1994 case of missing persons

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Several questions are being raised against the CBI investigations into the case relating to the alleged disappearance of three persons from Ludhiana almost 13 years ago, in March 1994.

Earlier this month, a special CBI court in Delhi, acting on the CBI’s report, allowed the framing of charges against four Punjab Police officials IG, Sumedh Singh Saini, retired SP, SS. Sandhu, DSP Paramjit Singh and retired SHO Balbir Chand Tiwari. The court said they be tried for kidnapping and other charges.

The police officials have now filed petitions in the Delhi High Court in which they have stated that the missing persons - Vinod Kumar, his brother -in-law Ashok Kumar along with driver Mukhtiyar Singh - “have not been kidnapped or killed, rather they are on the run and just hiding from the police since March 15, 1994”.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court, on that very day, had released Vinod Kumar on anticipatory bail and asked him to pay up Rs 70 lakh - which was the outstanding amount against him - to a nationalised bank.

Apart from criminal charges, Vinod Kumar was facing recovery suits to the tune of crores of rupees, filed by nationalised banks against them.

Policemen have brought out affidavits and statements given to the CBI by Ashish Kumar and Pramod Kumar, two other bothers of the missing Vinod Kumar, who claimed to have met Mukhtiyar Singh, the driver, in Delhi in May 1994. The same was recorded in their statements to the CBI in June 1994.


World War veteran still prefers to ride buggy
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 31
Even as horse-driven tongas and buggies have become a rare sight these days, Major Mohinder Singh Sarkaria (84), a war veteran is seen doing rounds of the holy-city in his cart in Army uniform along with his six-year-old grandson, Adeeshwar Singh (6), first standard student.

Major Sarkaria, was decorated by the President of India for meritorious service and permitted to retire and retain the rank of Major for life-time vide Gazette of India dated April 14, 1973. He comes from Punjab chiefs family. His great grandfather, Raja Sahib Qumedan Khushal Singh Sarkaria conquered Kabul. In recognition of his achievements, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, with the consent of his eldest sons namely Maharaja Kharak Singh and Maharaja Sher Singh, had adopted Qumedan as his (Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s) son. The light-weight folding buggy with a trailer for an attendant was designed by Major Sarkaria himself.

He has been using it every evening on the roads of Amritsar and The Mall, Jalandhar Cantonment for more than 40 years. His forefathers and grandson all liked horse-riding even before the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He has named his house after his ‘Bhuaji’ (father’s sister) Maharani Roop Kaur, a queen of the Maharaja, where the buggy remains parked.

Major Sarkaria has passion for horses. His all three daughters — Harsohan Kaur, Kavmohan Kaur Pawanbrij Kaur are trained riders. His grandson insists riding a bridegroom’s decorated ‘Ghori’ whenever he comes across one from the age of three years. Major Sarkaria’s forefathers have been riding soldiers for many generations. His father Sardar Bahadur Risaldar Ajaib Singh Sarkaria, honoured with OBE (Order of British Empire), served in the Seventh Haryana Lancers, a cavalry regiment and was declared hero of siege of Kotal-amara (Turkey). In hand to hand fight, he had five heads to his credit during World War his forefathers kept horses to ride and buffaloes for milk.

Forefathers of Major Sarkaria used to till land with horses and came to be known as ‘Ghorewahia’.


Shopkeepers pull down kiosks, seek probe
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 31
The locals have expressed their resentment against the illegal construction of temporary kiosks in the highly-congested IDH market near bus stand. The spokesman of the market said though they had lodged complaint with the commissioner but the administration failed to take any action in this regard. So, they decided to remove the kiosks on their own.

The spokesman said the commissioner, who was under pressure from local politicians, had sanctioned the kiosks’ construction in the market. Political big wigs who had supported the allotment of these kiosks remained mute spectators in view of the coming Assembly elections.

The spokesman said they would not allow any new encroachments to come up. He sought a probe into illegal allotment and erection of the kiosks in the market and other areas of the holy city. The land was purchased at an exorbitant rates in an open auction and now a few elected representatives were facilitating kiosks’ erection. Mr Sunil Datti, Mayor, could not be contacted even after repeated attempts.


SGPC Flashback-2006
Year of anniversaries
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 31
The year 2006 would go down into the history of the Sikhs as the ‘year of Sikh anniversaries’ when the leaders of various Akali factions tried to take ‘political mileage’ with an objective of winning the forthcoming Assembly elections. Out of the four significant anniversaries two were marred by clashes.

The quadricentennial celebrations of the foundation of the Akal Takht went down in the history of the Sikh Panth as ‘blackest day’ when turbans of senior SGPC and Panthic leaders fell off in the presence of holy Guru Granth Sahib and Sikh high priests at Manji Sahib (Golden Temple Complex) in SGPC complex on July 2. The fifth birth centenary of Baba Budha at Kathungal also witnessed bloody incident when a large number of SAD (A) activists, including its President, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, were injured.

Giving recognition to the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee by the Shiromani Committee, re-election of Mr Avtar Singh Makkar as the SGPC President, sacking of Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, SGPC member, from the SAD for six years are some of the major incidents that hogged the newspaper headlines in 2006. On the other hand the recovery of 114 grenades from the SGPC complex at the time of the construction of the New Administrative Complex had hit the headlines in second week of January yet the police and the SGPC remained clueless about it throughout the year.

In yet another development, the SGPC chief had suspended Dr U.S. Dhaliwal as the Principal of Guru Ram Das Medical College on February 3 on charges of indulging in ‘unconstitutional acts’.

The SGPC viewed with utmost concern and distress the latest judgement of the Copenhagen Eastern High Court, upholding its judgement of confiscating the 6-inch long kirpan of a practising Amritdhari (baptised) Sikh, Dr Ripudaman Singh, who is living there for the past six years and had his higher education at Aarhus University in Denmark.

In an attempt to humble the ‘anti-Badal’ employees, the SGPC placed Mr Raghbir Singh under suspension with immediate effect on August 26, however, he got the stay order from the court. This is for the first time that a serving SGPC secretary has floated his own Akali Dal and was instrumental in filing a number of petitions in the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission, highlighting alleged 'corruption' in the supreme Sikh body .

The authority of the Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, was openly challenged by various Panthic bodies. His credibility suffered further when on July 25 the RSS national president, Mr Gurcharan Singh Gill, said the controversial ‘Sarb Sanjhi Gurbani Yatra’ was organised to mark quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib in March 2004 after getting ‘green signal’ from Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti Jathedar of the Akal Takht. The Sikh high priests awarded ‘mild Tankhah’ (guilty of religious misconduct) to Baba Daljit Singh Chicago, chief Gurjot Parkash Gurdwara (Chicago) who was facing charges of moral turpitude, in a hush hush manner.

The booking of Baba Amrik Singh, who had carried out 'Kar Sewa' of the Sarover of Harmander Sahib at behest of the SGPC had come as great shock to the Sikh devotees . Baba Amrik Singh, who is now absconding was found involved in many fraudulent activities .

Even, Mr Harcharan Singh Josh, a member of the National Commission for Minorities kicked off a controversy by describing Sikhs as part and parcel of Hindus, few days after his appointment . He withdrew the statement when the Jathedar of the Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, the SGPC President, Mr Avtar Singh, and Mr Tarlochan Singh, a former Chairman of the NCM, deplored it.


Amarinder extends greetings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in his messages wished the people of state on the eve of Id-ul-Zuha and also a very happy New Year. In his message on Id-ul-Zuha, he extended greetings saying that this festival symbolizes love, sacrifice, goodwill, compassion and trust.

In another message, Capt Amarinder Singh wished the Punjabis living all over India and abroad a very happy and prosperous New Year.

He hoped that Punjab would soon emerge as a frontrunner state in the country. Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, also extended her greetings to the people on the New Year.


Court orders sale of 2 govt vehicles
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December 31
The court of Ms Ramesh Kumari, Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Barnala, has directed the custodians of two government vehicles (PB-13F-0969 and PB-13-5445) to produce these before the court auctioneer at Barnala so that warrant of sale can be issued as regards these vehicles.

While the first vehicle belongs to the office of the Superintending Engineer, Construction Circle, Public Works Department (PWD), B&R, Sangrur, the second one belongs to the office of the Executive Engineer, Rural Works Division, PWD, B&R, Malerkotla.

Ms Ramesh Kumari passed this order under Order 21, Rule 43-A of the CPC for the recovery of Rs 1,10,500 in the Dharam Paul Jindal (retired JE) versus the State of Punjab case. Dharam Pal had sought retiral benefits from the Punjab Public Works Department.

The judge also directed that the warrant of sale be issued on the process fee/munadi fee.

In suit No. 1,562, dated October 15, 2004, Ms Ramesh Kumari delivered her verdict on September 26, 2005, directing the state of Punjab to give retiral benefits to Dharam Pal Jindal. After the decision, Dharam Paul’s counsel moved an application for execution under Order 21, Rule 11 of the CPC for the recovery of the above mentioned amount.


Cotton ginners to continue strike
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 31
Cotton ginners have decided to continue with their strike. It would add to the resentment prevailing among farmers due to the non-purchase of cotton in the state’s markets for the past three days.

The decision came at a meeting of the executive committee of the Punjab Cotton Factories and Ginners Association here today. Association’s president, Bhagwan Bansal, said though they knew that the state government could not withdraw 1 per cent Punjab Infrastructure Development cess post-poll code, they would continue the strike in protest. He said ginners had cotton stock sufficient to last 15 days, after which they were prepared to face the closure of factories.

On the other hand, BKU (Ekta) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri said they would not tolerate harassment of the farmers in “mandis” He said if the ginners could continue their strike, they could also resort to agitation.


Farmers face shortage of urea
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 31
Farmers of the district have been facing acute shortage of urea fertiliser. Many farmers have been waiting for urea since one month.

Many of them told The Tribune they had deposited advance payments with the agencies and dealers for buying urea since last month. However, till date we have not received supplies. It is time when urea fertiliser was required for wheat crop. The unavailability urea can hit yield of the crop, farmers alleged.

The urea is nitrogenous fertiliser that is produced by National Fertilizers Ltd. (NFL) and IFFCO. The NFL has two units in the state at Nangal and Bathinda. The fertiliser is distributed among farmers through cooperative bodies and authorised agents of public sector companies.

Sources in the department of agriculture said the failure of the companies to deliver urea in border area was the reason for shortage.


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