P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


High Court
EC not for advancing Beas poll
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 21
Even as two top officials of the Punjab government, the chief secretary and the DGP, assured the Punjab and Haryana High Court that free and fair election was possible in the Beas constituency, the election commission (EC) today reiterated its stand that conditions prevailing in the constituency were still not conducive enough for voting.

It also opposed any move to hold the polling before March 11 as has been prayed by the petitioner, sitting MLA Jasbir Singh Dimpa, who is the Congress candidate from the constituency.

Dimpa has moved the high court seeking the stay of the declaration of the results of the polling held on February 13 for 115 of the total 117 seats till polling is held in Beas. The results of 116 constituencies, including Valtoha, where polling will be held on February 24, are due to be declared on February 27. He has prayed that in the alternative, directions be issued to the respondents, including the EC, to hold polling on February 24 along with Valtoha constituency.

Today, Punjab DGP R.S. Gill was present in the court as per the direction of the court on the last hearing. He apprised the bench about the situation prevailing in the constituency and said the same was fit enough for holding the election.

Punjab chief secretary K.R. Lakhanpal, in his affidavit, has also stated that the situation in the area was normal.

However, the counsel for the EC told the bench that polling should not be pre-poned. He informed the court about the misgivings of the EC. He pointed out that the deployment of central security forces would also have to be arranged for the polling because a majority of the same had been pulled out and sent to Uttrakhand and Manipur for the Assembly elections. He also said even the state government had conveyed to the EC that at least 39 companies of paramilitary forces were required to ensure proper counting on February 27 when the counting of votes and the declaration of the results were due at different places in the state. He also stated that though the petitioner and some others favoured advancing the date of polling, the EC had also received a large number of representations against the request.

The bench of Chief Justice Vijender Kumar Jain and justice Rajive Bhalla observed that while the question of when to hold the election was strictly in the domain of the EC, the court would like to see the material that prompted fixing March 11 as the date for holding the poll. At the same time, the court observed, it was the duty of the EC to ensure that none of the candidates took advantage of the postponement.

Thereafter, the bench, while adjourning the matter to tomorrow, ordered the EC counsel to produce before it the material which had led to the postponement of poll in the Beas constituency and also the rejection of the representation of the petitioner on February 14 seeking to advance the date of polling from March 11 to a date before February 27.


’07 poll different in more ways than one
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, February 21
Elections in Punjab saw the fiercest-ever campaigning by the Akali Dal and the Congress. It has also been described as the costliest elections in Punjab so far.

The campaigning started on a bitter note. The caricatures of Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Badal which appeared in the media were far from decent.

Both parties promised the moon to the voters, irrespective of what was written in the manifesto. Advertisements were issued in leading newspapers addressed to the voter with promises impossible to be honoured.

The Akali Dal issued full-page advertisements aimed at arousing the emotions of the voters. However, the Congress in its publicity campaign showed some restraint towards the closing of the campaign.

Looking at the advertisement tariff of the newspapers, one can surmise that this campaign was the costliest.

Two TV channels were launched during the campaign. If one make a critical analysis of what appeared on the small screen, it can be concluded that on the one hand, a three-time Chief Minister was projected as the sole friend and guide of Punjab, whereas the Congress concentrated on economic development programmes alone.


Farmers take to sugarcane cultivation in big way
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 21
The long queues of tractor-trailer loaded to their brims with sugarcane clogging the Gurdaspur-Mukerian road indicate that farmers of the border district Gurdaspur have achieved another feat. The district has become the highest producer of sugarcane in the state.

Due to handsome price offered and quick payments by private and cooperative sugar mills owners area under sugarcane in the district has increased considerably in the past two years. As per Chief Agriculture Officer Gurdaspur Kahlon this year about 20 per cent of total agriculture area available in the district had come under sugarcane. As per estimates 24763 hectares in Gurdaspur has come under sugarcane crop.

Experts attribute the increase in sugarcane production to the good price fixed by the government and smooth payments by the mills. The Gurdaspur farmers sell their produce of sugarcane at four mills including two private at Mukerain in Hoshiarpur and Rana sugar mill in Amritsar on the borders of the district and two cooperative mills including one at Paniyar and other at Batala.

This year the government fixed procurement price of sugarcane at Rs 132 per quintal. The private sugar mill at Mukerain was offering Rs 135 per quintal, Rs 3 more to the farmers than other mills due to which maximum farmers were carrying their produce there. Farmers are also getting better returns from sugarcane. They have taken to intercropping with the sugarcane crop. The farmers now sow wheat, pulses and vegetables along with sugarcane. Following this way they can get two additional crops with sugarcane.

The delay in payments by cooperative sugar mills was the major hurdle that discouraged farmers from growing sugarcane. However, now almost all mills are making regular payments due to farmers are making Rs 25000 per acre from sugarcane crop.

Sugarcane also was proving to be an ideal crop for water logged areas of the district near the banks of Beas river . The farmers have even encroached upon the river bed to grow sugarcane.

Due to high yield of sugarcane in the district, another sugar mill was coming up in the district. The mega project that includes a sugar mills and distillery has been cleared by the government and construction work has started.


Tribune Impact
NRI promises facelift for neglected village
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Mardanpur (Patiala), February 21
Masol, the neglected poor cousin of Chandigarh, is all set to get a new lease of life, thanks to a non-resident Indian (NRI).

A UK-based NRI Surinder Singh Nijjer has come as a messiah for the residents of the village whose plight The Tribune highlighted on February 7. Mr Nijjer read about it on The Tribune website while flying to India. He now plans to provide well-constructed houses, water and electricity to this village, which has been neglected for years by the government.

Masol is only 10 km from Chandigarh, the state capital. However, the last 5km stretch that leads to the village passes through hilly terrain and a rivulet, which overflows whenever it rains. The stretch is full of rocks, boulders, potholes and loose mud. Mr Nijjer asked his friends here to locate the village and determine the facts on grounds.

A recce by his team saw their car getting stuck in the rivulet twice before they could finally succeed in reaching the village. “We were sensible enough to take a jeep yesterday,” grins Kulwinder Singh who did the recce.

Nijjer visited the village yesterday to check facts for himself. Not very fond of media attention Nijjer revealed a few of his plans to TNS for the village.

“I am grateful that your paper highlighted their plight,” he states for starters. Initially, we will construct permanent structures for them and in many cases re-do their roofing which leaks when it rains. Later, we will provide them with water and electricity.”

Nijjer and his friends in the past week have already worked the economics of providing the facilities to this village, now they are only worried of logistics. “The village has about 75 houses that we will have to work upon. We are only worried about how to take up all that stuff to the village, it is a very bad road,” states Nijjer.

Nijjer is hopeful that the new government just might address the villagers’ grievances.” We will start construction on the houses first and that will take us some time, till then we will see if the new government takes any initiative to provide water and electricity. If not, we will bore a tubewell and also try and put up a transformer for electricity,” he informs.

Originally hailing from Domil village in Phagwara, Nijjer migrated with his parents over 30 years ago to the UK. Nijjer who owns Fortal Construction there has been associated with lot of social and charity work all across Punjab for the past few years. He has an organisation called Fortal Aid, which helps provide medical help and also free education to the needy. His organization also constructs homes for the needy and when required helps arrange their marriages, etc.

“The organisation has covered about 50 villages till now, while we have constructed 600 houses across Punjab,” informs Malkit Singh who has a finance business in Jalandhar and works with Nijjer.

When The Tribune team caught up with him today he was busy checking a few houses in this village with the sarpanch to give them aid.

For him it is just a way to something to the society he comes from.

As of now they are all set to give about 350 residents of Masol a new lease of life. “We will start work by mid-March,” states Nijjer.


‘Selective’ demolition of shops; traders agitate
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 21
The Improvement Trust here today under took selective demolitions in the city. Three shops were demolished near the bus stand, in connivance with the owners. When the trust authorities tried to demolish other adjoining shops the owners resorted to agitation. The move drew flak from the shopkeepers and political dealers.

The shopkeepers did not allow the trust authorities to remove kiosks converted into shops that allegedly were illegal. They alleged they had been carrying business from the spot since long. Moreover the trust has not issued any notice to them. They just came with JCB machines today to demolish the establishments.

Former minister and BJP candidate from Pathankot Mohan Lal also visited the spot to support of the agitating shopkeepers. He alleged the shops were demolished to make passage for land behind them. The land was owned by kin of influential officials of the trust. The land could be put to use only if the shops in front of these that have existed since decades were demolished.

He also alleged why the trust was not demolishing other illegal commercial establishment that come on main roads of the city, despite orders of the SDM here and the deputy commissioner.

The police was called after the situation became tense due to the agitation by shopkeepers. The police asked for specific demolition orders from the trust authorities. The officials present at the spot failed to produce the order after the demolition was stopped.

A few days ago also the trust authorities demolished a shop owned by sitting trustee Ram Murti Mahajan. The trustee had alleged foul play.


Daughter as non-conformist as Faiz
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 21
Had it not been for her inheritance of love, Salima Hashmi could not have seen life in the face of death. Stepping on the Indian soil just two days after terror strikes killed many of her countrymen aboard the Samjhauta Express, she says it’s an opportune time to visit India.

“We have seen desperate terror attacks. And we have seen how the two governments have ignored them and continued to talk. I am humbled by their wisdom,” says the daughter of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, the legendary poet, who still inspires the world with his verses of hope. His daughter is not a poet, but she is as non-conformist as Faiz was. A controversial painter, a radical art educator, a fearless writer and a council member, Pakistan Human Rights Commission, Hashmi is every inch her father’s daughter.

That’s why she can spot silver lining in the cloud of intimidation that threatens Indo-Pak peace: “This is a moment of triumph for our nations, a moment when those who have the vision must stay poised and be magnanimous. We must scrap visas. I would also love art to travel cross border as freely as music, poetry and literature. It’s sad that onions can cross over from Wagah, but not art. Art is no missile, after all.”

But art can be very caustic, admits Hashmi, whose paintings have often left governments red in their face. Her works were pulled out of the national exhibition when Zia-ul-Haq’s men saw political content in it. “They saw right. I paint political themes. These might assume different forms in my works, but ultimately these are about speaking aloud — something the establishments have been very uncomfortable with,” says Hashmi, in Patiala today to attend a seminar at Punjabi University.

Back in Pakistan, Hashmi has fought many a battle for academic freedom. Former principal of National College of Art, Lahore, she still remembers how tough it was. “But we managed to secure our independence. Our college was like an island in Pakistan’s academic map. We did away with the British form of pedagogy and trained our students not to be painters but to be thinkers,” said the livewire, making references to her father’s poetry.

“He spoke of people’s power. That’s why I believe we will be a democracy one day. The Indo-Pak association is only helping us get closer to that route. The release of tension is creating conversations between people and lending them voices they never had,” said Hashmi. Even as council member at the Pakistan Human Rights Commission, she is working to prevent domestic violence which is all pervasive. “Even the elite suffer from it. Right now we are most concerned about the non-delivery of education by the state. We are also working against honour crimes. Many such issues will be discussed at the regional convention of South Asian Network for Human Rights, to be held at Lahore next week,” she said, before coming back to art, her first love.

One of the reasons she travels to India is that her art cannot. Another, more important, reason is her father’s legacy. Faiz has more friends in India than in Pakistan and Salima, his dutiful daughter, must catch up with each one of them. And she does.


Seminar on Punjab crafts concludes
Tribune News service

Patiala, February 21
Bekan House National University Lahore dean Dr Salima Hashmi and daughter of renowned Pakistani poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, today said that with India and Pakistan’s building relations, the craftsmanship in both the countries would get a boost.

Dr Hashmi today presided over second day of the three days seminar on Punjab Crafts and Craftsmanship - Past and Present, being held in the Punjabi University.

With the help of beautifully woven words and slide shows, she gave a glimpse of Floating Stitches by the contemporary lady artists of Pakistan.

She added that there was a deep rooted link between the art and culture of Pakistan's Punjab and India's Punjab and hence it was the main reason that handicrafts made by people of both the countries almost looked alike.

Dr Hashmi who has authored a number of books on Pakistan women of art and a special book, 'Art of India and Pakistan', pointed out that by holding such seminars, both countries would come close and women of both countries would become more alive to the field of craftsmanship.

After a presentation by Dr Salima Hashmi, the creator of Rock Garden Nek Chand while giving a brief introduction of his life stressed that waste material should be reused to create wonders. Apart from this he gifted a group of rock sculptures made out of waste materials to the vice chancellor S.S. Boparai.

Dev Inder Singh, another participant in the seminar, presented before the audience a presentation involving some well clicked photos of today’s Punjab.

He also tried to show the painting made by rural women projecting the old culture of Punjab.

Gurmeet Rai gave presentation on Craftsman related with some important buildings of Punjab. Director of Arts and Crafts Museum New Delhi Prof Jyotindra Jain talked of the folk concepts on Jewellery, tools and process.

Sukhranjan, a young scholar spoke on the old printing traditions of Punjab.

Convener and head Department of Fine Arts Punjabi University Saroj Rani said that main purpose for holding this seminar was to make efforts to revive the rich heritage of craftsmanship in Punjab.


LPG shortage hits Doaba region
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
Diversion of domestic liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for commercial purposes and an unprecedented hike in demand has led to a severe shortage of cooking gas in Punjab, especially in the Doaba region.

Residents of Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr and Jalandhar have to wait for eight to 15 days in order to get their regular supply of LPG. Hindustan Petroleum LPG dealers in these districts said that the shortage of cooking gas had been brought to the notice of the district authorities.

Sources in the regional offices of oil companies here admit that there is a shortage of cooking gas. Though officials in the Indian Oil Corporation said there was just a one-day backlog in supply of Indane gas, top officials in Hindustan Petroleum admitted that there was a shortage in supply because of diversion of domestic gas for commercial use.

“On account of massive diversion of cooking gas for commercial use, especially during the on-going marriage season, the company, too, had regulated supply to the dealers to avoid diversion,” admitted a top official in the regional office of HPCL.

Officials in the oil companies say that the demand for LPG increases by almost 25 per cent in winter, which often leads to a seasonal shortage. Officials in the Indian Oil Corporation here said that the average LPG demand in Punjab was about 25,000 metric tonnes per month and the company was comfortable with its supply.

Though the exact figures for the demand of HP gas were not readily available, officials in HPCL said that the capacity of the company’s bottling plant in Hoshiarpur was 15,000 cylinders per day. The supply from this bottling plant was being made to Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar and Nawanshahr. “Though the capacity of the domestic LPG supply has been enhanced by 500 cylinders a day (after a separate unit for filling of commercial cylinders was set up), the widespread diversion of domestic gas for commercial purposes has led to a shortfall in supply. We have now launched a concerted campaign against this diversion, and hope to get the results soon,” he said.

HP gas dealers in these three districts also complain that they are given the gas supply by HPCL on historical basis i.e., the LPG supplied during a particular month is the same as that issued during the corresponding months of previous two years. “Historical figures are worked out based on LPG issued during 2004, which itself was based upon 78 per cent of the total number of consumers. The company has refused to take into account the increase in the number of consumers, which is further aggravating the situation,” informed a dealer in Hoshiarpur.

The dealers have now demanded that an online system of demand for LPG be created and receipts of drafts/cheques deposited at the bottling plant should be given to the dealers. They have also asked for supply of LPG as per demand of dealers.


‘Sikhs abroad being misled on birs’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 21
A preliminary inquiry conducted by the SGPC has indicted certain Sikh organisations for misguiding the Sikhs living abroad about Guru Granth Sahib ‘birs’ from Italy.

SGPC chief Avtar Singh, in a press note said few of these ‘birs’ were found 'old' and could be cremated as per the Sikh tradition. Sounding a note of warning , the SGPC chief said none would be allowed to play with the sentiments of the Sikh community.

The SGPC had constituted a five-member committee comprising Giani Mal Singh , Mr Bharpur Singh Khalsa , Mr Gurbachan Singh Karmuwal , Giani Maan Singh and Giani Baldev Singh who would probe the matter.

Mystery shrouds fall of car in canal
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 21
Mystery shrouds the fall of a Ford Icon car into the Bhakra canal on the Sirhind-Patiala highway near Madhopur chowk last night. The car belonging to a trader of Jagadhri in Haryana was today fished out but surprisingly all the doors of the car were locked. No dead body was recovered from the car, which created many doubts.

Interestingly the owner of the car made several calls to his wife and friends informing them that his car had fallen into canal and he was drowning.

SSP Paramraj Singh Umranangal, along with other police officers, launched a search in all the canals in the district after he received a message from the SSP of Khanna that a car of a trader from Jagadhri had fallen into the canal in his district.

Talking to The Tribune at the site, SSP Umranangal said after he got a message from the SSP of Khanna, he directed the police to search all the canals. He said today morning they noticed some scratches on the Bhakra canal on the Sirhind-Patiala highway. He said the police summoned divers and informed the relatives of the trader, who also came in large number to the spot. The SSP said the wife of Mr Rajan, the 35-year-old trader of Jagadhri, told the police that yesterday at about 1 pm he left Jagadhri for Mandi Gobindgarh in connection with business on his Ford Icon car (HR-05-P-3200) and at about 8.30 pm he made a call to her on his cell phone that his car had developed a snag and that after getting it repaired he would proceed. The SSP said at 10 pm Rajan made a call to his friend Anmol in Jagadhri stating that his car had fallen into the canal and that he was drowning. Anmol informed his family and the SSP Khanna also, who in turn informed the SSP of Fatehgarh Sahib.

The SSP said when the car was taken out from the canal, to their surprise there was no dead body in it.

He said that all the relatives were also surprised. He said he had constituted a special team led by the SP(D) to investigate the matter as the incident had created many doubts and suspicions. He said if Rajan was supposed to go Jagadhri, why did he turn towards Patiala. Moreover, all doors were locked. He hoped that the mystery would be solved at the earliest.


Ludhiana villages mourn death of army band members
Kanchan Vasdev and Mahesh Sharma
Tribune News Service

Baddowal/Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 21
There was gloom in Baddowal and Mandi Ahmedgarh today, when six members of a Baddowal-based army band belonging to Kalarh, Sihar, Detwal and Pamal villages were killed and six injured seriously when the tempo trax they were travelling in collided with a bus near Tangra on the Jalandhar-Amritsar road today morning.

Lack of information about the loss made family members more miserable. They till evening were in limbo about the members who had died.

Those killed were identified as manager of the group Bharpur Singh of Baddowal, his nephew Daljit Singh alias Babbu (19) resident of Kalarh village who recently joined his maternal uncle to earn a living. Hardeep Singh of Sihar village, Onkar Singh, a teenager from Baddowal, Teji, driver of Pamal village and Jitee Singh of Detwal village were also among the killed. Mr Gurmit Singh, Mr Hardev Singh, Mr Kuldip Singh, Happy and another teenager were injured seriously in the mishap.

Teenager Onkar Singh was not part of the group but he accompanied them to collect tips given on the occasion.

The news was broken to the Kalarh family by the Amritsar police on the basis of a telephone number saved in the cell phone of Daljit Singh.

“We thought he would join his uncle and we would get rid of poverty. But the fate has snatched only breadwinner of our family. Who would we look to now?” asked grief-stricken, Nahar Singh, grandfather of Daljit Singh.

Although the accident took place in the morning, the families in these villages did not know about casualties till evening. The members, who had left the villages for Tangra informed home that they had no information as the hospital authorities were not allowing them to enter the premises.

Sources at Kalarh said the party had hired some other vehicle to take them to the destination near Amritsar in the morning today but it dropped them at Dehlon village and they hired a Tempo Trax for the purpose.


Electoral officer urged to defer counting in Budhlada
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
Government employees from the Budhlada Assembly segment have urged the chief electoral officer to defer the counting of votes in that segment till the employees who were put on poll duty on February 13 are allowed to cast their vote. They submitted a representation in this regard to Babu Lal, additional chief electoral officer, Punjab, here today.

Rajdeep Singh and Balwinder Singh, leaders of the Adhiyapak Dal, told The Tribune here today that they had been denied their right to vote in the Budhlada constituency allegedly by the returning officer of that segment. They claimed that as many as 800 employees of various government departments living in Budhlada segment were put on duty by the returning officer to conduct poll in Budhlada and adjoining segments.

All these employees had submitted their duly filled forms to the returning officer requesting him that those who were put on duty in Budhlada segment should be issued “on election duty” certificates to enable them to cast their vote at the place of their duty, they added. Employees who have done poll duty in their own segment are authorised to vote at their place of duty by submitting the certificate to the presiding officer. And employees who are put on duty in a segment in which they are not living are issued post ballot papers to cast their vote.

Rajdeep Singh and Balwinder Singh said the employees who were put on election duty in the segments adjoining Budhlada were not issued the post ballot papers. They said they had met the returning officer a number of times asking him to enable them to cast their vote, but got no satisfactory response. “That is why we have come here to meet the additional chief electoral officer,” they added.

They said if they did not get justice from the office of the electoral officer, they would knock the door of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. They had also decided to approach the Election Commission of India to urge him to probe why the returning officer was denying them the right to vote.


Hindu jatha install idols at Pak temples
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Wagah, February 21
Idols of Hindu Gods were installed at various ancient Hindu temples of Pakistan by the Hindu jatha that returned through the Wagah road here yesterday.

Disclosing this to mediapersons, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, a senior BJP leader, said the idols of the family of Lord Shiva, which were taken to Pakistan by Mr Banarsi Dass of Gurdaspur, were installed at the ancient temple of Katasraj as per the Hindu maryada on February 16. She said the idols of Radha and Krishna were also installed at the famous Krishna temple in Lahore on February 19.

However, she rued that the Wakf Board authorities did not allow them to take out a 'shobha yatra' before installing the idols.

It is pertinent to mention here that many idols in ancient Hindu temples in Pakistan had gone missing and the government there had denied permission to install new ones. While most of the Hindu temples there were in a bad shape as they had not been taken care of by the authorities concerned.

However, after thaw in the Indo-Pakistan relations efforts were made by the Punjab government of Pakistan to renovate many Hindu shrines, which were in a dilapidated condition.

The holy Katasraj temple is considered the second holiest shrine of the Hindus after ‘Jwalamukhi’. It is connected with ancient temples of Lord Shiva and the Pandavas of Mahabharat epic. It is also known for the little known Buddhist stupa and historic ‘haveli’ of Hari Singh Nalwa, general of the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Lauding the role of the Pakistani government for taking up the renovation of the ancient temple of Katasraj, Ms Chawla said Dr Abassi of the Archaeology Department of Pakistan was showing keen interest in renovating the ruined shrine. She said the work on the project was going on slowly as every care was being taken to restore the shrine by earnestly studying the ancient temples in India.


‘India, Pak cops face identical challenges’
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, February 21
Policemen of India and Pakistan have almost same work culture and experience similar challenges and problems owing to common organisational roots and heritage. Dr D.J. Singh, dean-cum-deputy director, Punjab police academy, Phillaur, said here today. He has returned from Pakistan after attending an international conference on mental health held in Lahore from February 15 to February 19.

This was first-ever conference on mental health for developing countries organised by the world psychiatric association. Objective of the conference was to improve mental health care in developing countries.

Dr D.J. Singh added efforts by police forces of both countries, especially both Punjabs could lead to mutually beneficial results.


Naxalites organise congress after 37 years
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 21
The Communist Party of India (Maoist), an ultra Left extremist organisation in the country, organised its party congress in “one of the liberated zones” after a gap of 37 years recently. The CPI (Maoist) was formed after the merger of the two most active ultra Left extremist groups, the People’s War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), in September, 2004.

According to a press note issued by the CPI (Maoist) here today, under the signature of its newly appointed secretary-general, Comrade Ganpati, 100 top delegates of the party participated in the congress. They were provided security cover by the armed guerrillas of the party. The party claimed it to be a major achievement towards achieving the goal of the prolonged people’s war for the new democratic revolution in the country. 


Auto workshop for deaf and dumb
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 21
DC Rahul Bhandari inaugurated an auto workshop at MGD School for Deaf and Dumb being held under the aegis of the NRI Charitable Foundation and the Bathinda Brotherhood Club last evening.

Addressing a gathering, the DC said the students were also being imparted vocational education at the school so that they could stand on their own feet in future. He said soon training sessions for screen printing would be launched in the school.

The girl students were being trained in painting, drawing, stitching, toy making and cooking, he added.

NRI Chhinderpal Singh Bhullar assured all help to the school in these ventures.


2 books of Punjabi writer released
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 21
Chief of the janwadi lekhak sabha Dev Dard, senior IPS officer Manmohan Singh and editor of a monthly Punjabi magazine 'Akhar', released the two books written by noted Punjabi writer Talwinder Singh to mark the International Mother Language Day, here today. Speaking on the occasion, Jatinder Singh Jolly, a reader, Guru Nanak Dev University, and Sumit Singh urged Punjabis to help in promoting their language.

They, however, expressed concern that the elite class had turned their back to their own mother tongue.


17 relatives of blast victims arrive

Amritsar, February 21
Seventeen relatives of the victims of the bomb blasts in the ill-fated Attari Express arrived here though the Wagah joint checkpost today.

The district administration had made arrangements to provide transportation to the relatives of the victims .Meanwhile, the BSF and the Customs authorities had made arrangements to provide light refreshment to them. — TNS


Train blasts condemned
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 21
Sain Mian Mir International has condemned the ghastly act of the disruptive forces which claimed the lives of 68 innocent persons travelling in the ill-fated Attari Express train at Panipat.

Mr Harbhajan Singh Brar, president, SMMI, said the people of the two countries should defeat the nefarious designs of the disruptive forces that were out to sabotage the ongoing peace process.


Relief fund for train blast victims
Tribune News Service

Wagah, February 21
The Punjab Istri Sabha Relief Trust today sent a cheque for Rs 20,000 towards the Prime Minister’s relief Fund for giving relief to the victims of the Attari Express train.

In a release to the Press Mrs Vimla Dang, honorary secretary, PISRT, hoped that the government would utilise the amount by providing sufficient compensation to the victims of the most gruesome tragedy which claimed the lives of 68 persons of both India and Pakistan.


Badal’s counsel submits IT report
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 21
In a new twist to the corruption case involving SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal and his family members, Mr Badal’s counsel, former advocate-general H.S. Mattewal today submitted a confidential report of the Income Tax Department about assessment of their property claiming that the Badals did not have disproportionate assets as alleged by the Vigilance Bureau before Special Court Judge G.S. Saran.

While submitting two sets of the income tax evaluation report containing 325 pages about Orbit Resorts, Mr Mattewal requested the special court judge to summon the home secretary and the Vigilance Bureau director. He said the Income Tax Department had conducted the evaluation of Mr Badal’s property and prepared a report in this regard in December last year as per the communication from the Punjab Vigilance Bureau.

The Income Tax Department, Chandigarh, had termed that the disproportionate assets evaluation of the Badal property by the Vigilance Bureau was wrong.

Heated arguments were witnessed in the court when special public prosecutor A.P.S. Deol, accompanying district attorney Pradeep Mehta, opposed the move of Mr Mattewal arguing that they had no knowledge about the report and it was not a part of the challan. Moreover, the court could not take notice of the report submitted by the accused.

After hearing the arguments in the case the judge fixed the next date of hearing on February 23.


Police reforms may be deferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The much-awaited reforms in the Punjab police will take some more time to be implemented as the matter is likely to be left for the next government to decide. Though officials are planning to send the issue in the forthcoming meeting of the Punjab council of ministers, in all likelihood it will be deferred.

The present council of ministers will meet for the last time on February 26 with the agenda to dissolve the Vidhan Sabha. The matter of police reforms will be left for the next government. However, documentation and everything else is being done to avoid facing a contempt of court for not obeying the orders of the Supreme Court. Also the cabinet, if it defers the issue, will save the officials.

An order of the Supreme Court has asked the states to set up committees to implement the reform process. This includes the state security commission and the police establishment board. The commission will decide upon the selection of the DGP and the board of the IGs, DIGs and SSPs and lay down the fixed term of two years for them.


3 killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Khamano, February 21
Two members of a family, including a girl and her mother, were among three persons killed during a road mishap near village Jatana Ucha, near here, on the Chandigarh-Ludhiana road. One person seriously injured is fighting for life at the PGI, Chandigarh.

According to information collected on the spot, CTU Bus No. CH-IG-5851 was going towards Ludhiana from Chandigarh. It collided head-on with a Santro Car No. PB-08AK-6484 and the bus overturned.

A scooterist was going by the side. The bus fell on the scooter. After hearing loud noises, the villagers of village Jatana Ucha gathered on the scene.

In the meantime, a person informed the Khamano police station and SHO Sukhjit Singh Virk reached the spot with ambulance. Rescue operations were launched immediately and bus passengers were saved.


Servant kills 3 of family
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur February 21
In a gory incident that sent shock waves in the Kanuwan area, a migrant servant killed all the three members of a family and fled with cash and jewellery.

Ravel Singh, a landlord, was living in his farm house, near village Simby, in the Kanuwan area along with his two wives Kanso and Balwinder Kaur. The landlord did not have a child from either of the wives. Recently, they hired migrant Raju as servant without verifying his antecedents. The family paid the price for the negligence last night.

Raju killed all members of the family, including Ravel, with farm spade and fled with all cash and jewellery kept in the house. The bodies of the family members were recovered this morning when the housemaid came for daily chores. The bodies of Kanso and Balwinder Kaur were recovered from the house while the body of Ravel Singh was recovered from the tube well near the house. The face of the deceased farmer was crushed beyond recognition by the assailant.

As per information gathered by the police, Ravel Singh had withdrawn Rs 2 lakh from bank yesterday. He had counted the money in front of the servant and kept it in the house. The cash seemed to be the primary reason behind the murder.


SAD workers attacked
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 21
In yet another case of poll related violence, Chuhar Singh and his son Manjit Singh, both belonging to the SAD, were seriously injured when they were attacked by seven persons with sharp-edged weapons in Danyal village, about 40 km from here, last evening. They were rushed to the Baba Bakala Civil Hospital in a serious condition. However, doctors attending on them referred them to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital here.

Mr Manjinder Singh Kang, an Akali candidate, alleged that they were attacked by Congress workers, and two of them were in police uniform. The SSP, Majitha, Mr Lok Nath Angra, denied the involvement of any police personnel.

The election in the Beas constituency will be held on March 11.


People more aware of their rights: CJ
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 21
Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Vijender Kumar Jain has said that the people of India are becoming more and more aware of their constitutional rights than ever before, which is a positive development in a democratic society.

He was addressing the first batch of 80 students at the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law on the university campus here today. He was accompanied by Punjab and Haryana High court judges Mr Justice M.M.S Bedi and Mr Justice M.M. Kumar.

Mr Justice Jain, who is also the chancellor of the university and whose judgements on intellectual property rights have been extensively reported in the media, said there were as many as 2.66 crore cases at various levels in Indian courts. In the next 10 years, this figure would record an upward surge, he added. The development was a pointer to the fact that the “people of India were becoming more and more aware of their constitutional rights”.

Terming the students of the first lot of the university as torchbearers, he said now it was their turn to become topnotch legal experts in their respective fields and make their alma mater proud of their achievements.

The Chief Justice, who has also taken part in various conferences on international law, said it was a positive sign that in its first year, all 80 seats available with the university were filled.

This development showed that students and their parents had reposed a lot of faith in the university. He also added that the prime aim of the newly established university was to impart a system of legal education that would enable students to achieve excellence in the legal field once they stepped into the outer environs.

“We should have a sense of self-respect so that we can actively take part in the ongoing process of globalisation.

At a seminar held in Toronto recently, I asked why there cannot be migration of eminent technocrats, engineers and doctors to other countries when on the other hand free movement of trade was being made mandatory,” said Mr Justice Jain.

He exhorted the students to maintain a high-level of excellence. “If you can sustain yourself for five years, I am confident that you can become good legal experts,” he added.

He also declared Socrates House as the best among the four Houses in a competition held by students of the university. The other Houses which took part in the competition were Plato, Aristotle and Marx.

He also gave away prizes to students who have attained academic excellence. The prizes were won by Mahesh (1), Pratishta Singh (2) and H.S. Bajwa (3).


International seminar on “Role of religion”
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 21
A three-day international seminar on the theme “Towards building a peaceful society”, "Role of Religion" concluded here today. The seminar was organised by Harbans Singh from Department of Encyclopedia of Sikhism of Punjabi University in collaboration with International Interfaith Centre, Oxford, U.K. In his valedictory address, Swami Ved Bharti, said that all names lead to one name. He talked about the problems and solutions of the conflicts. He said that concept of revelations and concept of holy water is common to all religions and statue worship is almost everywhere. He said, "there is no need to find ways of uniting as they already exist, what is needed is to recognise these ways". In the enlightening speech, he said that source of inspiration for one and all has been same for centuries and it needs to be understood and accepted.

Earlier, S. Rimpoche said that in this post modern age, every community is in a hurry and has created a sort of disbalance in his life.

Religion has played a role until now. If everybody follows religion, there will be no conflict. Religion is a state of mind and a ritual. He stated clearly that institutionalisation of religion hampers the real purpose of religion as institutions create ego among it’s followers. “Are we not engaged in monologues?”, he asked. “Listening attentively to others could minimise conflict. If traditions and institutions could have come together, there would have been a tolerant and beautiful world”, he added.

Seminars presented research papers on cultural hermeneutics, global peace through global values, interfaith themes in life and writings of Swami Vivekanand and Buddhism towards social harmony.

While speaking utility on cultural hermeneutics, Prof Yong Huang from Kutztown University, Pennsylvania, USA, enunciated in detail different types of hermeneutics, which make distinction between self creation and human solidarity.


One-day seminar on software industry at SVSM
Tribune News Service

Banur, February 21
A one-day seminar on “Programme and Project Management for software industry” was organised at the Swami Vivekanand School of Management (SVSM). Eminent resource persons and various software executives attended the seminar. CEO of the institute Manmohan Garg presided over.

Manager Accenture (UK) Limited Ravinder Singh Zandu in his inaugural address enlightened the students on various aspects of project management. Zandu an alumni of PEC has got the honour to be listed in who's who in Asia 2006, and has also two copy rights for Punjabi language software to his name. He began the seminar with a punch-line, "Hero lies within you". He explained the various stages involved in managing projects and provided insights into the budget and schedule variances, risk and issue management plan. The importance of change management and knowledge management was also elaborated.

Director SVSM P.P. Arya while extending his heartiest welcome to the speaker appreciated the importance of the topic for the budding managers and engineers.

Speaking on the occasion VP academics SVGOI C.S. Rao advised the students to seek for the details as discussed by Zandu for their future projects. Director SVIET I.K. Kataria while stressing upon the importance of such kind of interactions, hoped to conduct more of such kind of interactive programmes for the benefit of the students. Principal SVIET Varinder Kaur and chairman Ashwani Garg also expressed their views.


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