P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Standing crops on 40,976 acres bear the brunt
Hailstorm toll

Our Correspondent

Fazilka, February 18
Standing crops on more than 40,000 acres have been extensively damaged by the recent hailstorm in villages of the Fazilka subdivision.
The farmers, who had been expecting a bumper produce, were ruined, with no assurance of help from the administration.

According to sources, a survey of the damaged crops had been conducted by the civil administration and a report sent to the Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore.

In about one dozen villages of Alamshah, Mohammad Pira, Chack Amira, Kotha, Thangni, Bakhushah, Mumbeki, Pakka Chisti, Khanpur, Asafwala and Chananwala in the border area, the standing crops on 40,976 acres had been damaged completely while in certain villages the loss was estimated to be between 50 and 60 per cent.

In Kabul Shah Hithar and Mohammad Pira villages, orchards of ‘ber’ had also been damaged and 90 ‘kutcha’ houses and one ‘pucca’ house damaged.

Ten milch cattle and 14 calves had also died, according to the report of the administration, but unofficial sources put the loss to be much higher.

According to Mr Bhagwant Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, crops in about 80,000 acres had been damaged in the Ferozepore district and permission of the Financial Commissioner (Revenue) was being awaited for conducting special girdawri.

Congress leader Jagmeet Singh Brar, who visited the villages of Alamshah, Mohammad Pira, Chack Amira, Kotha and Bakhushah, met the villagers and listened to grievances.

In Mohammad Pira village, sarpanch Lal Chand said most villagers had been ruined and it would not be possible for them to pay the lease amount to their landlords.

Mr Mohinder Singh of Bakhu Shah village said his herd of 12 sheep perished in the hailstorm and he had been ruined financially.

Mr Kashmir Singh (70) of Mumbeki village said he had not witnessed such extensive damage by a hailstorm during his life.

Addressing small rural gatherings, Mr Brar said he would strive for the immediate supply for five trucks of wheat straw and green fodder for livestock.

He said he would take up the matter of special girdawri with the government and plead for the implementation of the crop insurance scheme in the areas affected.

The Centre’s crop insurance scheme had been initiated only in 200 districts so far.

He said he would try to get compensation from the National Calamity Relief Fund.


Rain damages crops in Malwa
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 18
Rain since several days has led to apprehensions among farmers who were expecting a good harvest this year. Waterlogging in several villages has already damaged standing crops affecting those who had sown mustard, vegetables and wheat. The rain has hit potato and tomato growers the most as these crops were sown recently have been destroyed.

According to an estimate, so far 30 per cent of potato and tomato crops had been damaged and if it rains for another few days, damage is likely to go up to 60 per cent to 65 per cent.

Mr Gurmail Singh, who owns a farm which is under potato cultivation, said though the potato crop which was ready for harvest might survive the rain, but the recently sown crop would be destroyed completely in several villages. He said farmers were likely to suffer losses of more than 30 per cent due to the rain.

In some areas it is not the rain but waterlogging that led to the destruction of crops. "The rain did cheer us up but when it did not stop, it became every farmer's nightmare," said Mr Balwinder Singh of Gholia village, whose wheat crop has started getting pale due to overirrigation.

Even those cultivating mustard and fodder have been hit by the rain. Mr Sukhjinder Singh, another farmer who had sown mustard in five acres, said if the water was not drained from fields, he might suffer total loss this year.

Vegetable growers have also been affected. They fear standing vegetable crop will not earn expected profits as discoloured vegetables do not sell at prevailing market price.

Mr Kashmir Singh Bal, Chief Agriculture Officer of the district, said the department was aware of the loss likely to be suffered by the farmers. He said the worst-affected was the potato and tomato crops. "In some areas even wheat had been damaged by waterlogging." He maintained assessment of loss could only be done after a few days, as the crops that gained moisture might rot over a period of a time.

He however, maintained the rain was most likely to benefit wheat that has not been affected by waterlogging.


Teachers allege violations of poll guidelines 
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, February 18
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) today criticised the Punjab chief electoral officer (CEO) for violating guidelines of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) regarding the assignment of election duties and the conduct of elections during the recent Assembly poll and parliamentary byelection.

State unit president Prof H.S. Walia and general secretary Dr Jagwant Singh said after a meeting that the CEO had failed to depute election staff according to their seniority and pay scales, especially in case of college teaching staff.

The union threatened to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court to highlight the problems and seek directions for the future conduct of poll in view of ambiguities.

At least one lakh teachers had been deputed, who were denied voting rights, which could be crucial, it said.

The union urged the election commission to provide them an opportunity to exercise their franchise before the declaration of results on February 27.

The remuneration to the staff on election duty varied from place to place, not disbursed at places, which pointed to corruption during the disbursement of payment, it alleged.

Due to lack of proper management, organisation and coordination, the staff had to suffer harassment, it added.

There were polling stations without tables, chairs and light arrangements and officers had to go without food and water at many polling stations, it claimed.


Dullo writes to EC on Beas poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Even as the Punjab and Haryana High Court will be hearing a petition on the early conduct of polling in the Beas Assembly constituency, the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, today shot off a letter to the Election Commission (EC) seeking that the elections to the constituency should be held before the counting is conducted across the state on February 27.

Polling in the Beas Assembly constituency was postponed to March 11 due to a clash in which one person was killed. In the letter to the Chief Election Commissioner, Mr Dullo has said the outcome of the Assembly elections, where counting is being held on February 27, will have its repercussions on the Beas constituency in favour or against a particular candidate.

Mr Dullo has also said the annual examinations of Classes X and XII conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education as well as the Punjab School Education Board are commencing in the first week of March and election campaigning during that period will have a negative effect on the preparations of students taking these examinations.

Mr Dullo has requested the EC to fix the date of election on February 24, simultaneously with the Valtoha poll. He has also suggested that the poll can be held on February 25 or 26 so that polling is held before the counting of votes in rest of the state takes place.

Sources in the EC said the High Court would take up the matter tomorrow and the decision of the court would have to be followed.


Trident strikes peace deal
Our Correspondent

Barnala, February 18
Apprehending trouble on the land acquisition issue, the Trident group has decided upon truce with cane growers by coughing up more than Rs 2 crore.
The management has conceded all demands of farmers, who have called off their agitation, satisfied with the deal in the rapprochement formula.

A meeting was held between farmers and the management today to take up the matter of cane purchase.

The management agreed to purchase the sugarcane at Rs 140 per quintal and offered to pay Rs 7500 per acre as compensation to the farmers who wanted to sell their produce anywhere else.

The management would not deduct any money for the seeds provided to the cane growers last year.

Mr Gandhur Singh, Mr Chamkaur Singh and Mr Surjeet Singh, farmer leaders, said they were satisfied with the deal clinched with the Trident management.

Mr Rupinder Gupta, manager administration, Trident group, said the authorities did not want any confrontation with farmers and readily agreed to pay the compensation.


18 Sikhs leave for Pak today 
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 18
The first jatha of 18 Sikhs, led by Mr Kulwant Singh Randhawa, a former SGPC secretary, would cross over to Pakistan to mark the 86th anniversary of Nankana Sahib on February 19.

The Government of Pakistan has granted visas to the Sikh pilgrims under the banner of ‘Gurdham Yatra Committee’ for the first time after Partition. The jatha will be back after paying tributes to those who had attained martyrdom during the unprovoked firing by the hired men of Mahant Narain Dass on February 21 , 1921.

The day assumes significance in the Sikh history as the community acknowledged the day by remembering the martyrs in their daily prayer. Mahatma Gandhi had visited Nankana Sahib on March 3, 1921. Addressing the gathering, Mahatma had said: “I have come to share your anguish and grief. It is interesting indeed to note that the Sikhs in this drama remained peaceful and non-violent from the start to the end. This (role of the Sikhs) has greatly added to the glory and prestige of India.....”

The hired goons of Mahant Narain Dass wielded swords, spears, hatchets and other lethal weapons and killed the unarmed Sikhs within the premises of the Janam Asthan Gurdwara, a few years before the formation of the SGPC. The dead and dying Singhs were then dragged on to a pile of logs collected earlier and consigned to flames. By the time the police and local Sikhs reached the scene, all of them had been consumed by fire. Bhai Lachhman Singh Dharowali who was wounded with a gun shot was tied to a Jand tree and burnt alive. It was a butchery at its worst. Later, the keys of Sri Nankana Sahib and its control was handed over to the SGPC. As the news of Nankana massacre spread, Sikhs from everywhere marched to Nankana Sahib, despite road blocks, re-routed trains and deployment of troops to cordon off the area.

Though the SGPC, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and other Sikh organisations have been visiting Nankana Sahib to mark the Gurpurbs and death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, no appropriate memorial was raised in memory of the martyrs.

Mr Randhawa said his organisation would request the Government of Pakistan to grant visas to at least 500 pilgrims to mark the ‘Saka of Nankana Sahib’ from the next year.


PM’s wife sprains foot
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 18
Mrs Gursharan Kaur, wife of Primer Minister Manmohan Singh, sprained her foot during a marriage function of a close relative here this morning.
Mrs Gursharan Kaur was accompanied by her daughter Kiki, son-in-law Vijay, a senior professor at Delhi’s Saint Stephens College and grandson, who had specially come down from Delhi yesterday, to attend the wedding of Mr Kanwarpreet Singh, nephew of Dr Manmohan Singh.

Mrs Gursharan Kaur, after the ceremony, was going towards the wash room with SPG security including two special designated women officers, when she fell down. Two doctors who always accompany the PM’s wife, arranged for an ice pack to protect her sprained ankle..

Earlier, last night at lady sangeet ceremony, PM’s wife danced with her relations.

Dr Manmohan Singh, who was not present at the wedding, personally conveyed his greetings to his younger brother Daljit Singh Kohli and his family.

After attending tonight’s wedding reception Mrs Gursharan Kaur and her family would return to Delhi tomorrow.


All-woman expedition ends at Wagah
Tribune News Service

Wagah, February 18
An all-woman expedition led by Ms Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to conquer the Mount Everest, which started from Bhuj in Thar Desert of Gujarat on January 14, concluded here today.

Talking to newsmen Ms Pal said she had led this 11-member all-woman group of adventurous women from different states of the country. Their aim was to highlight the problems faced by the border residents of the country, especially the women folk who had to bear the brunt of keeping and running the household. The journey, which criss-crossed many states, covered a distance of more than 2000 km.

The Everest woman said that this adventure trip had provided them the opportunity to understand the problems of these people and also to instill adventurism among them. She also had a word of praise for the BSF personnel and the officers, who were manning the frontiers under hostile terrain from Thar Desert in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab. She said the jawans continued to maintain constant vigil on these borders with a smile and were helpful to the residents of these areas.

The ace mountaineer said that she would present here report about the living conditions of the residents of the border areas to the government for drawing up a comprehensive development plan for them.

Earlier the group was given a warm reception by the senior officers of the BSF commanding force at the Wagah Joint Check Post. A group of girls from the BBK DAV College for Women also performed ‘Giddha’ for the expedition team.


An apology for a bus stand
Our Correspondent

Nabha, February 18
Condition of the town’s bus stand and bus services to its district headquarter Patiala is pathetic.
Bus stand lacks even basic facilities for travellers. Its only shed behind buses parking is broken and leaks from many places. There is no sitting arrangement under this. Only rods of eight fans and bases of electric tubelights are present. Shed provide no protection in summer, winter or rainy season.

People have to face sun, rain or fog while waiting for buses. If someone stands under the shed foul smell from toilet assails from a distance. The lone toilet for women remains waterlogged throughout the year. Taps and other fittings of bathrooms are either stolen or damaged. There is no arrangement of drinking water at the bus stand. Behind a cemented shed there is a taxi stand where women passengers do not chose to sit. should be introduced on this route so that the monopoly of PRTC could be broken.

The PRTC MD assured to improve bus service to Patiala in a day or so but the EO of the MC cannot be contacted despite attempt. Patiala-Nabha and the Patiala-Samana routes equired after every 15 minutes but at present bus comes after 45 minutes or one hour. This results in rush and accidents. They said same condition existed from Patiala in the evening between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. An ex-employee of PEPSU Roadways Transport Corporation (PRTC) buses of which ply on this route said that the Patiala-Nabha and the Patiala-Samana routes were lucrative routes of corporation but the authorities were not doing anything to improve plight of commuters. He said that four/five private buses should be introduced on this route so that the monopoly of PRTC could be broken. 


1.13 lakh given polio drops 

Sangrur, February 18
As many as 1,13,711 children up to the age of 5 years were today administered polio drops in the Sangrur district. Mr S. R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, inaugurated the Pulse Polio programme by administering polio drops to a child at Bhala Basti here.

Dr S.K. Bansal, Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, said here that polio drops had been administered to the children at 814 booths and by 52 mobile and transit teams of the health department with assistance of the non-government organisations (NGOs) in the district. He said about 86,000 left-out children would now be administered polio drops by the health employees, who would visit door-to-door, in the next two days.

Dr Bansal also said that people had also been educated about the benefits of administrating polio drops to their children by the teams of the health department. — TNS


Pulse polio programme put off for week

Abohar, February 18
Rain hampered pulse polio campaign today in the region.
The campaign has been postponed for a week as the state went to polls on February 13. Lensmen and office-bearers of the NGOs had to wait as parents were reluctant to bring children to the booths set up in different localities as showers lashed the subdivision and neighbouring areas this morning. The authorities failed in achieving the targets even last month. Most of the polio drop centres wore a deserted look till noon. — OC


Vandalism at temple: Protest against police inaction
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 18
Activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the Vishva Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal, the Shiv Sena and the Brahman Sabha, along with residents of Rorian, burnt an effigy of the Hoshiarpur SSP in front of his house at the Mall Road here this evening.

They were protesting against the failure of the district police in arresting the culprits responsible for vandalising a Shiv temple on the eve of Mahashivratri at Rorian, about 10 km from here.

They also staged a dharna in front of the gate of the house of the SSP and blocked vehicular traffic on the Mall Road for more than two hours.

They earlier assembled at the Ram temple in New Jagatpura and took out a procession through the main bazaars of the town.

SDM Pritam Singh and SP (Headquarters) Upinderjit Singh later intervened and assured them about arresting the culprits within 24 hours, after which the dharna was lifted.


7 injured as bus overturns

Sangrur, February 18
Seven persons were injured, two of them seriously, when a private bus in which they were travelling overturned near a brick-kiln at Ladal village, near Lehragaga, today.

When contacted, the Lehragaga police said this evening the bus was on its way to Budhlada from Lehragaga when it overturned and fell in a nearby field. All the injured persons, including three women, have been admitted to the Lehra hospital for treatment.

In the mishap Bhur Kaur, Tej Kaur, Harcharan Singh and Narayan Singh, all from Gidarryani village, Takht Singh from Ratta Kherra village, Nazar Singh and Jasbir Kaur from Ahmedpur village (Mansa district) sustained injuries. — TNS


6 held for betting on matches
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 18
Six persons were arrested for cricket betting at a marriage place in Sriganganagar, 40 km from here yesterday.
According to information Ms Paramjyoti an IPS probationer led the raid at room number 1 of the Kuber Place owned by Mr Sanjay Moondra, chairman of the Market Committee at Sriganganagar.

Source said Jaideep Bihani cashier District Congress Committee, Durga Dutt Mutt Mundra a brother of the senior BJP leader Sanjay Moondra, Anil Singhal husband of a BJP Councillor, Virender Sihag, Gobind Mittal and Rajesh Apli were nabbed from the Kuber Place. The police took in custody 36 home theatre system, radio, printer, remote, Tata Sky dish, 10 mobile sets Rs 36760 in cash and some diaries that carried information on cricket test betting. All six persons were taken to the sadar police station but were shifted to the guest house at the district police lines and interrogated for an hour.

The reporters had to stage dharna as policemen prevented them from taking photographs of the alleged culprits. Later Ms Paramjyoti gave details. All were released on bail last night.

Mr Bihani said. Mr Sanjay Moondra owner of the marriage place was away from the city. The dish had been provided to entertain the visitors, he said.


Sarpanch shot dead; five booked

Amritsar, February 18
Jasbir Singh Sohi, Sarpanch of Sohi village, was shot dead by five assailants in broad daylight at Abdal village under Kathunangal police station in Majitha police district here today.

The accused fled the scene after committing the crime. The police has registered a case under Sections 302, 452, 427, 148 and 149, IPC, and Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act against Heera Singh, Kundan Singh, Major Singh, Hardeep Singh and Bachitar Singh, all residents of Abdal.

Rashpal Singh, a brother-in-law of the deceased, in his statement to the police alleged that the accused attacked Jasbir Singh when he was sitting at his brick-kiln along with his brother-in-law. He said the accused fired at them. He said they ran to safety, while Jasbir went inside a room. He said the accused broke opened the door of the room and allegedly slit his throat with a sharpedged weapon.

Mr Amrik Singh, SP, Headquarters, when contacted, said that Jasbir Singh had a dispute regarding the brick-kiln with accused Kundan Singh and Heera Singh. The matter was already pending in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The SP said the accused reportedly fired from .315-bore rifle. — TNS


Four killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 18
Four persons were killed as a jeep collided head-on with a truck on the Sonari road in the Hanumangarh area due to fog at 8 am today. Sources said Mohinder (25) son of Kesar Ram Goswami of Hameerdesar village was returning in the jeep (RJ 31 GA 0939) after making purchases for pertaining to the marriage of his sister, fixed this evening, when the vehicle collided with a truck loaded with gypsum 1 km away from Nohar as visibility had been reduced due to fog.

The collision was so powerful that engine of the jeep rammed in to lower part of the truck. The driver of the truck fled leaving the heavy vehicle there. Mohinder and his friend Jagdish (25) son of Gopal Jat of Daniasar village died on the spot. Moola Ram (37) Daniasar and Mahabir (28) Dulchasar-based driver of the jeep succumbed to their wounds at the Nohar based civil hospital, sources added. Kalu Ram (27) of Khuyian village was referred to the district hospital in a serious condition. The police had registered a case against the driver of the truck.


Youth stabbed to death

Nabha, February 18
A man staying in the serai of Gurdwara Ghorianwala stabbed a baptised youth (23) to death here last night.
Jagjit Singh of Bamal village in Dhuri tehsil, who was staying in the serai of the gurdwara attacked sevadar Lal Singh when he challenged him while moving suspiciously towards the Darbar Sahib building at about 11.30 p.m.

On hearing the noise, Mohan Singh, alias Moni, tried to intervene and overpower Jagjit. The accused took out his kirpan and injured Moni and Lal Singh seriously. Later Moni succumbed to his injuries. Lal Singh has been hospitalised.

Gurdwara manager Labh Singh has alleged that Jagjit Singh was in an inebriated state at the time of the incident. The police has registered a case under Section 304, IPC. — OC


Heroin worth Rs 10 crore seized
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 18
The Border Security Force (BSF) and the Punjab Police have seized 10 kg of heroin, worth Rs 10 crore in the international market, from the riverine area in the vicinity of Kakkar village in Amritsar this evening.

The contraband had been packed in plastic bags and concealed in a barren piece of land in the riverine area of the village. The joint operation, based on field inputs, was conducted this evening.

Further investigations were on and no one had been rounded up so far.


Girl’s body found
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 18
The police today recovered the body of an unidentified young woman (23) from a field, near a road, about one-and-half kilometers away from Ubhawal village, near here.

The police said it seemed to be a murder case as the woman’s body had injuries inflicted with sharp-edged weapon. Besides this, the clothes of the woman had also been set on fire.

The police said it had sent the body of the woman to the local Civil Hospital for post-mortem examination. However, the body could not be identified till this evening.


Inter-college software festival ends
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, February 18
Various IT contests were the highlights of the two-day inter-college software festival, “Softtech-07” that concluded at the Swami Vivekanand Institute of Engineering and Technology (SVIET) at Ramnagar, near here, today.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Sanjay Sofat, Additional Director, Department of Information Technology of the Chandigarh Administration, called upon the youth to excel in their specialised fields. The CEO of the SVIET, Mr Manmohan Garg, said such festivals helped develop overall personality of the students.

Mr Rohit Puri, Regional Manager of the Apple Computers, made the students aware of the latest developments in the IT field. Mr Amitoj Dogra, Centre Head of the NIIT, Chandigarh, gave a presentation on “Vista launch”, a new operating system of Microsoft.

Meanwhile, Amandeep and Harpreet from Punjab University stood first in “Brainvita” and Guravtar and Harpreet, also from the same university, stood first in “Software Guru”. In “Cyberthief and Webweaver”, the first prize went to Pardeep of the SVIET.

In “Cybertainment”, Pushkar Mishra of the SVIET bagged the first prize with Manjeet Singh of the GGSCMT, Kharar, winning the second prize.


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