P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Parties seek votes in name of lasting peace
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Valtoha, February 22
The ruling Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal today sought votes in the name of “permanent peace and prosperity” in this border constituency, which witnessed large-scale migration of Hindus during militancy. Both parties organised a show of strength here.

The Congress distributed posters against Mr Virsa Singh Valtoha, SAD candidate, accusing him of forcing migration of members of a community during days of militancy.

Interestingly, the Congress held a big rally at Algon Kothi in Bhikhiwind, where a senior SAD leader and five others were killed on May 19, 2002, at Bhikhiwind. The name of Congress candidate Gurchet Singh Bhullar, then a Cabinet Minister, had figured in the killings though the police had gave him a clean chit later.

The promise of “peace and prosperity” by both parties seemed odd.

Addressing the election rally, Capt Amarinder Singh said SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal had patronised those who had been associated with militancy. He gave a call to voters to defeat fundamentalist forces.

However, Mr Badal blamed the Congress for the 'black days'. He said the Congress candidate’s house had been a “hub of militant activity.” Reffering to the killing of Akali leader Gurdial Singh at Algon Kothi in 2002, Mr Badal said the first political murder had taken place in this border area at the behest of Mr Bhullar.

Defending Mr Virsa Singh Valtoha, Mr Badal said the presence of good number of Hindus at the rally showed that he (Mr Valtoha) was innocent. He said he and BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu had come here to appeal the voters to elect Mr Valtoha for ensuring overall development of this border constituency.

The SAD supremo promised “Sangat Darshan” in Valtoha after the formation of the SAD -BJP government. Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal said those involved in “political murders” in Punjab would be brought to book after formation of SAD-BJP government.

Capt Amarinder Singh said:"I promise to develop the border areas in the next five years."

The Chief Minister talked of corruption during the Badal regime. He said he had promised jobs on merit and had kept his word. "People are the best judge," he added.

Shamsher Singh Dullo, PPCC chief, said Mr Badal had ignored different sections of society and promoted his family alone. He said that Congress was a secular and poor-oriented party. Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal was also at the rally.


Fair poll uphill task in border seat
Tribune News Service

Valtoha, February 22
It would be a big challenge before the district administration to conduct afree and fair election in this border constituency, once known as a “haven” for smugglers before the fencing of the border with Pakistan.

Akali Dal candidate Virsa Singh Valtoha, a former militant, and Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar of the Congress are locked in a fierce battle for the Valtoha seat, polling for which is to be held on February 24. The administration has declared 37 of the111 booths as “very sensitive”. Fifty more booths are “sensitive”.

Interestingly, Hazara Singh Gill who was booked on various criminal charges, has represented the Valtoha seat twice in the Vidhan Sabha. He was killed in inter-gang rivalry in 1978 at Amritsar.

The Valtoha constituency saw a police encounter in the early sixties in which notorious smuggler Makhan Daura was killed. The smugglers of the area would cross the border without any impediment to peddle drugs, opium and gold.

Pakistan influencing the gold market in the holy city of Amritsar for more than four decades since Partition may sound strange. But before the fencing of the 533-km international border, Amritsar's market, was mostly dependent on gold smuggled from Pakistan.The agricultural land along “no-man's land”, which has no takers today, was once costlier than the urban land, as it was used by smugglers.

The price of gold quoted from Amritsar would determine the rates in the rest of the country till the border was fenced. In those days, gold used to be cheaper in Amritsar than in New Delhi.

Thousands of border farmers are facing starvation. A compensation of Rs 2,500 per acre given to them by the Centre in 1998 has been stopped. There are no takers for their land while land prices elsewhere in the state have skyrocketed. They want to be heard, despite the cacophony of electioneering.


Capt talks of militancy, Sukhbir aid to farmers

Valtoha, February 22
A day before the election campaign ended in this border constituency yesterday, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh said that if returned to power, he would put Akali candidate Virsa Singh Valtoha behind bars for his 'dubious background' and for allegedly threatening people to vote in his favour.

Addressing a series of election rallies at Rajoke, Toot and Khemkaran in favour of Congress candidate Gurchet Singh Bhullar here, the Chief Minister asked the voters of Valtoha to vote for the Congress to ensure peace and development in the state.

He reminded the people of the days of terrorism in the border belt. He blamed Mr Parkash Singh Badal of inciting innocent youth to take to arms.

SAD general secretary Sukhbir Singh Badal addressed rallies in favour of his party candidate Prof Valtoha at Varnala, Kotli, Mahnike and here. He said the formation of the SAD-BJP government in the state was certain and special attention would be given to border area farmers.

Among others who addressed SAD rallies were MLAs Gaganjeet Singh Barnala and Mr Sital Singh and Bhai Manjit Singh.

The Communist party of India (CPI) also organised a rally at Khemkaran in favour of Ms Kiranjit Kaur whose husband Kulwinder Singh, CPI candidate, was killed in a road accident and the election postponed to February 24.

The rally was addressed by state secretary Jagroop Singh, Dr Joginder Dayal, former MLA Hardev Arshi and Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia.


Leaders rush to Beas
Tribune News Service

Beas, February 22
Senior leaders of Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal, who were expecting some respite after the final poll rally at Valtoha today, had to rush to the Beas constituency when they learnt that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the Election Commission to hold polling there before February 27.

On hearing the decision, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh said: "We are in high spirits and will win in Beas too."

SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal said: “We respect the institution of court and the Election Commission." SAD candidate Manjinder Singh Kang said he respected the decision of the court. He campaigned in some villagers of Baba Balak area.

Congress candidate Jasbir Singh Dimpa paid obeisance at Gurdwara Shaheedan (Amritsar). He said the stand of his party stood vindicated that the election in Beas should be held before the counting of votes. He then undertook a tour of his constituency.


10 BSF companies for Beas

Beas, February 22
District Election Officer Kirandip Singh Bhullar has said that 10 companies of the Border Security Force and five companies of the Punjab Armed Police were likely to reach here tomorrow.

He said the election machinery had already been geared up and instructions issued to the Returning Officer of Beas.

Mr Bhullar said the district administration was well-prepared to conduct the poll since it had 8,000 staff trained recently for this purpose whereas only 516 persons were needed for Beas. — TNS


Vandalism at Shiv temple: SHO suspended
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 22
SSP R.N. Dhoke has suspended SHO Jaspal Singh of the city police station for negligently performing his duty. The SSP said today that SHO was not traceable when various organisations and residents of Rorian village were agitating following the vandalism at Shiv temple on February 18.

Dhoke further said he had also sent ASI Kulwinder Singh, posted at the sadar police station, to the police line for raiding the SHO’s residence at Rorian village on February 19 and for rounding up his wife, Sahkuntal Devi, who also took part in the agitation. Departmental action would be initiated against the SHO, he added.

Meanwhile, the SSP said Satnam Singh, son of Atma Singh, had stated that on the birth anniversary of Guru Ravi Dass, which was being celebrated at a village gurdwara, Babu, son of Hari Prem and Thollu, son of Joginder Ram, had asked them to switch off the loud speaker. They refused to do so but assured to switch it off as soon as Mohinder Kaur Josh arrives. Thereafter, both entered the gurdwara with their shoes on. Meet Ram objected to this, but they forcibly pulled out the wire and ran away. Jagtar Singh, who ran after them was beaten up. On the statement of Satnam Singh a case was registered against the accused.

The five accused Jagtar Singh, alias Babu, Ranjit Singh, alias Thollu, Sandeep Kumar, alias Sonu, and Sandeep Sharma, all residents of the same village, were arrested on February 19. Vishal Sharma was arrested on the next day.

Ruddar Giri, a priest at a temple at Rorian village stated that on February 15 he found the temple’s flag torn and all belongings lying outside it. The wooden idol of Lord Shiva was also found broken and thrown outside. A case under sections 295 of the IPC was registered at sadar police station.

The police arrested Jagtar Singh, Amandeep, Satnam Singh, Som Dutt, Rajesh Kumar, all of Rorian village and Anil Bagha of Bhawani Nagar, Hoshiarpur, in this connection.


80 huts demolished in Kabir park area
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 22
Hundreds of residents living unauthorisedly in Kabir park of the Kot Khalsa area of the city were rendered homeless as the Amritsar improvement trust today launched “operation clean” and demolished 80 huts and other structures.

The trust officials with police personnel arrived at the site in the afternoon and demolished the structures in three hours. According to sources residents had been living there unauthorisedly for the past 35 years. Hundreds of people protested and raised slogans against the trust officials for demolishing huts. They even jostled with police officials to block the movement of bulldozers. The trust officials also removed structures installed by a marriage palace’s owner in the park.

The residents told reporters the trust officials had not given any notice to them for vacating the site. They alleged trust officials wanted to oblige some influential persons residing near the park. Some of the residents alleged the trust officials had also taken away their goods and valuable items from huts.

The trust official said the operation was launched to remove unauthorised occupants of public premises under the punjab public premises (eviction of unauthorized occupancies) act. They said the site had been allotted and Punjab and Haryana high court had issued directions to get the site vacated so that it could be allotted to original allottees.

Senior officers of the district administration Manpreet Singh, SDM II, Narinder Bedi, deputy superintendent of police, were among those present at the site to supervise the operation clean.

Residents alleged that the politicians, who had assured them of no action during the assembly elections held recently for seeking votes supported the operation launched by the improvement trust authorities.


46 in Valtoha booked under Arms Act
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, February 22
As many as 46 persons of Valtoha area have been booked under Section 188 of the CrPC for not depositing weapons prior to the election for the Valtoha seat.

The district police said here today that despite orders by the District Magistrate to deposit weapons, the accused had not done so. Hence, cases had been registered against them at Valtoha, Khemkaran and Khalra .

Senior Congress leader Tarlok Singh Chakwalia along with his gunman and four others had been booked under Sections 344,323, 506,148 and 149, IPC, by the Khemkaran police. They were allegedly coercing Akali worker Pritam Singh of Chakwalia village to convass for the Congress.

DSP of Bhikhiwind Lakhbir Singh said the offence was bailable and the accused would be released soon. a case under the Arms Act had been registered against Sukhchain Singh of Bhai Ladhu village. He was a Congress worker and sarpanch of the village.

Mr Virsa Singh Valtoha, Akali candidate for the Valtoha seat, in a written statement condemned the ‘terror being unleashed in the area by Congress leaders’.


11 Punjabis caught in Mauritania
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 22
The Mauritania police has caught about 300 South Asians while they were
trying to illegally enter Spain in a boat in search for better livelihood.

Out of them 11 persons were from different districts of Doaba and Majha regions of Punjab, regional passport officer, Jalandhar, Amarjit Singh, said this while talking to The Tribune here yesterday.

He said the Indian Embassy in Senegal on Friday had sent a communiqué to him in this regard to confirm the particulars of the 11 Punjabis so that one-way travel documents could be provided for ensuring their return.

The RPO said he had already sent the report after confirming the particulars of the 11 Punjabis. They were issued passports from the Jalandhar office, which covers the seven districts of Doaba and Majha.

According to the information available here, these 300 South Asians from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were arrested in Mauritania about a week ago.

The Punjabis who were caught there have been identified as Prithvi Lal (Kapurthala), Tarsem Singh (Palahi village, Kapurthala), Hardeep Singh (Amritsar), Satnam Singh, Bahadur Singh (both from Lidhran village, Jalandhar), Naresh Kumar (Jalandhar), Balwinder Singh (Amritsar), Bhajan Singh (Reasi village, Hoshiarpur), Mandeep Anand (Hoshiarpur), Harpinder Singh and Kashmir Singh (both from Nawanshahr).

Their travel agents had fled with their passports thus leaving them in a lurch. This is not for the first time when Punjabis had been caught while trying to enter a foreign country illegally for greener pastures.


Punj-Aab bus service normal
No extra security needed: Govt
Harbans Singh Virdi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The Punj-Aab bus service to Lahore and Nankana Sahib has been plying without any shadow of fear and anxiety despite the Samjhauta Express train blast in which more than 60 persons died on Sunday.

In the 45-seater luxury bus there are 17 or 18 passengers, who board the bus to Lahore from International Bus Terminus at Amritsar every week.

However, lukewarm response continues for the bus to Nankana Sahib. But government sources say there is no need to beef up security for the bus that runs between India and Pakistan through Wagah.

According to A.P. Sarkaria, Deputy Director, State Transport Department, Punjab, and in charge, Operations, there is no need to beef up security for the bus in view of the train blast for the simple reason that the security is so tight already that about 20 policemen keep vigil round the clock at the International Bus Terminus at the Youth Hostel in Amritsar where the bus is stationed for three days.

Last year in January, both India and Pakistan started the bus service- Punj-Aab- from Amritsar to Lahore. Three months later, the two countries began another bus service between Amritsar-Nankana Sahib. The Lahore-bound bus goes to Lahore on Tuesday and returns on Wednesday while the bus to Nankana Sahib goes on Friday and returns on Saturday.

After its return journey, the bus is parked at the International Bus Terminus and a posse of 20 policemen, including some lady constables, keep round-the-clock vigil around the whole complex where the bus is parked.

Not only this, the security is so tight that even during its journey from the bus terminus, a police inspector and a constable escort the bus up to Wagah.

The Punjab Government has taken a luxury bus on lease from the Libra company at a hefty sum of Rs 80 lakh per annum.

On similar pattern, Pakistan runs its bus service from the Pakistan Tourism Board office in Gulberg, Lahore and from Nankana Sahib to Amritsar every week.


Sacha Sauda ripples in Majha too
Tribune News Service

Algon Kothi (Valtoha), February 22
The Sacha Sauda sect, which has considerable influence among voters of Malwa, today made its presence felt in the border belt of Majha too, announcing its support for the Congress candidate here.

Block chief of Bhikhiwind area Desa Singh rose to announce support of the Sacha Sauda Dera to Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Congress candidate, in the presence of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and PPCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo.

He said the decision to support the Congress was taken by the political wing of the dera. He claimed that the dera had more than 2,000 voters in the Valtoha constituency.

Though parties roping in the support of small deras in rural Punjab is nothing new, but the Congress roping in the powerful Dera Sacha Sauda in the border belt is a new trend .

The Communist Party of India has already lodged a complaint with the Election Commission, seeking disqualification of Congress nominees for using religion to further their electoral prospects.


Roads built month back in need of repair
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 22
Built barely a month before the Assembly elections, several roads in the district are already in need of repair bringing to light the carelessness in executing the work.

Some roads including state highways, which had been in bad shape for the past five years were metalled again in haste just before Assembly elections. The aim was to woo voters. But a week after the elections, cracks have appeared in most of these roads.

The 25 km-stretch of the Moga-Amritsar highway from Kot Ise Khan to Makhu village had been crying for repairs for past six years. The stretch was in such a neglected state that even the stone metal used in the construction of the road had disappeared at several places on the road.

It was after protests by villagers of Pir Mohan, Dhullewal and Mander villages that the road was re-laid. However, the road has started breaking and the craters have made travelling a nightmare for road users.

Criticising the agency that undertook re-laying this road, Mr Rawel Singh of Pir Mohan village said after a lot of effort the road was repaired as villagers had to hold many protests. He said it appeared the road had been re-laid in an unscientific way and apprehended poor quality of material might have been used.

Dalbir Singh, another villager, alleged huge money must have been embezzled by the government servants or else the road could not break so soon. He said villagers were of the view that a probe should be ordered to ascertain why public money was allowed to be wasted like this.

Recent rain also played havoc with the ‘already weathering’ road as its berms vanished at several places, leaving the road unfit for travel. Pits created also pose threat to commuters as these can lead to accidents.

The Moga-Dharmkot road is another example of department’s apathy as despite needing repair, this road has been left to its fate. In the name of repair, some patch work was done here, but after the rain this patch work has almost disappeared. What remains are a few signs of patch work at some craters.

The Gandhi Road in the town and the road connecting Railway station to Kotkapura by-pass highlight indifferent attitude of the municipal council as these roads were also built a few months before the election, but again need repair. Sitting Akali MLA Tota Singh also expressed concern at this and criticised the authorities for having wasted public money.


Pollution Control Board revokes NOCs to colonisers
Maneesh Chhibber and Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has revoked all no-objection certificates (NOCs) issued to promoters of residential colonies, following a decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in this regard.

The number of affected colonisers is above 50, pointed a source in the board, adding that in most cases the colonisers had already begun construction after having sold plots and flats. However, now the construction will be have to be stalled till a final decision on the matter is taken by the court.

Taking up a petition filed by residents of Mubarakpur village, Patiala, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Kumar Jain and Justice Rajive Bhalla had stayed the implementation of a circular of the board dated January 17, 2006, that allowed residential colonies to come up near industrial units.

The bench had asked the chief Secretary to enquire and submit a report into how such an “illegal and unconstitutional” circular had been issued.

“The coloniser will put in a condition while making registered deeds with the buyer of the flat, that the buyer of the flat will have no right to make any complaint against the intensity of industrial pollution caused by the existing industries, even if the industry is meeting with the prescribed standards,” said the circular.

The bench on January 30 this year said that all norms had been thrown to the winds by the pollution control board. “To say the least, the board, instead of controlling pollution, is encouraging pollution by relaxing norms.”

It said that no authority had the power to pass an order taking away the rights of the citizens to make a complaint in case of increase of pollution.

Following the direction from the court, Mr MS Sandhu, secretary of the department of science and technology, environment and non-conventional energy issued an order on February 15 that the board circular had been revoked and all NoCs cancelled.

There also seems to be confusion regarding who is the “affected” colonizer. Officials are revoking the NoCs of only those residential colonies which have come up beyond the 100 metre circumference of an industrial unit.


BBMB opens jatropha nursery
Initiative to save environment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The Bhakra Beas Management Board today launched its own initiative to save environment and inaugurated a jatropha nursery spread across 750 acres. Jatropha plant helps produce bio-diesel.

The seeds obtained from the plant can be mixed with conventional diesel in the 80:20 ratio. This will improve environment and decrease the pollution level, said board chiarman U.C. Misra, after inaugurating the project near Pong Dam in Talwara.

A spokesperson of the board said during the construction of the dam, vast tracts of lands were acquired. This land was lying unused. About 2 lakh plants were to be planted during this year and another 4 lakh plants next year.

The production of seeds through this plantation would be started after three years and the annual yield would be nearly 2,000 tonnes. The BBMB will gain nearly Rs 90 lakh by selling the seeds to oil companies for blending these with diesel.

The revenue earned would be distributed among the partner states, as per their share. Mr Misra donated a sum of Rs 1. 21 lakh for the construction of a classroom in Ghamroor village in Kangra.

A sum of Rs 2.80 lakh was donated for the purchase of chairs and for 13 Balwari centres in Kangra.


Historical monuments under encroachers’ threat
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 22
The historically significant ancient monuments in Batala are under threat due to encroachments. Though buildings have been declared protected by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), it has no affect on the encroachers.

The most significant historical monument protected by the ASI is the tomb of Shamsher Khan. The tomb was built by Shamsher Khan, a eunuch ruler of the area in Akbar's time. He was the richest man in charge of the administration at Batala at that time. Due to it the impressive tomb it was known as 'Hazira.' The word Hazira has been derived from the Persian word Hazirah.

ASI officials wrote the chief secretary, Punjab, regarding the alleged attempt of some local politicians to tamper with the protected land and building. The ASI officials, in their complaint, alleged that the local council authorities had tried to fill the pond surrounding the protected building 'Anarkali'. Had water been filled in the pond it would have disrupted the protection measures being taken by the ASI to restore the building. Moreover, the attempt was aimed as usurping the ASI from the possession of about 16 acre prime land adjoining monuments.

The officials told The Tribune that rule 32 of the Ancient Monuments, Archeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958 prohibits mining and construction up to 100 meters from the protected limits. The Act has barred any construction, excavation and mining within the said area without the permission of the director general of the ASI.

However, despite that a large number of constructions have come up near the protected monuments. A temple has been constructed by the encroachers between the two protected monuments, the tomb of Hazira and Anarkali. The illegal building blocks the view of monuments from either side.

Influential colonisers have carved out illegal colonies around the monuments and houses have come up in violation of the rules. The officials said that they had given legal notice the encroachers. However, in the absence of the active support of the local administration they could not remove the encroachments.

The History Society of Gurdaspur has expressed concern over the encroachments on the protected sites of the ASI. Raj Kumar Sharma, president of the society said the government should take strict action against the encroachers. The monuments protected by the ASI are not only the symbol of the Mughal era but also of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s glorious rule.

Sher Singh, a son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, lived most of his life at Batala until his accession to the throne in January 1841 AD. He also built a beautiful Italian style palace in Anarkali garden. The palace now houses Baring Union Christian College.


12 bodies handed over to Pak Rangers
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Wagah, February 22
The Radcliff Line which comes to life with the national songs of the two neighbouring countries during Beating the Retreat ceremony turned into a grieving place today for people who lost their relatives in the twin bomb blasts in the Attari Express near Panipat.

Twelve bodies have so far been sent across the Wagah joint check post. Seven bodies were handed over to the Pakistan Rangers at the check post late last night while five arrived in the morning and were handed over to the Pakistani authorities. Two more bodies are expected to arrive at the border and likely to be handed over late in the evening.

As soon as seven coffins reached the check post at 1.30 am the relatives of the victims broke down. Even the Pakistan Rangers and the BSF jawans could not control their emotions and could be seen wiping tears.

The district administration, BSF, Customs and Immigration officers and president of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front Maninderjit Singh Bitta offered floral tributes to the deceased. After verifying the documents the BSF personnel carried the coffins on their shoulders to hand over these to the Pakistan Rangers. The Railway authorities distributed Rs 85,000 each among the relatives of the victims.

Sayyad Ishaq Ali, who lost six members of his family, said no members of his family had taken meals since the incident. He said the only consolation for them was that the dead would be buried in their own homeland. Sayyad Imtiaz Ali, who lost his mother and father, said terrorism was not good for the two neighbours.

Bitta said he would file a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court against the Railways.


6 injured as bus overturns
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 22
Six women travelling by a mini bus were injured as the vehicle overturned while facilitating passage to a bullock cart on the Defence road last evening.

Sources said the bus was approaching Khubban village in this subdivision from Malout with 32 passengers on board. As the driver tried to give way to a bullock cart the vehicle overturned in the adjoining fields. Rajwant Kaur Koyalwala, Shaminder Kaur Fatuhiwala, Jagsir Kaur Kangankhera and Tara Devi received injuries. They were admitted to the Civil Hospital.

Three persons riding a motor cycle were injured while overtaking a Jeep while returning to Dharangwala near Pattibillah village here yesterday. The driver of the jeep rushed Shivraj, Arun Kumar and Ravinder Singh to the Civil Hospital. Dr Ram Kumar Goyal former MLA visited the emergency ward to ensure proper medical aid to the injured.

Meanwhile Tejwinder (3) son of a municipal council employee who was injured due to roof collapse in the Nai Abadi area on Tuesday died at a hospital in Sriganganagar.


2 labourers killed while repairing well
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 22
Two labourers, Jagsir Singh (21) and Lali (19), both residents of Shahpur Kalan village, near Cheema in Sunam subdivision, were today killed when a chunk of earth fell on them at the time of repairing of a 40-foot-deep well in the fields of Bahadur Singh at Shahpur Kalan.

The Sunam police said as per the reports both labourers died on the spot.

When contacted, SMO Baldev Singh Sahota of the civil hospital, Sunam, said this evening that after the post-mortem examination the bodies were handed over to the police for further proceedings.


4 of family get life term for murder
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, February 22
A local court today sentenced four members of a family to life imprisonment in a murder case dating back to December, 2003.

According to sources, the main accused, Balkaran Singh, his brother Swaran Singh, their father Baldev Singh and uncle Jagdev Singh had reportedly murdered Mahinder Singh, a farmer from Lakhewali village, over some dispute related to a water course. A case was registered against them under sections 302 and 34 of the IPC.

Additional sessions judge J.S. Bhatia announced his verdict awarding them life term and also slapped a fine of Rs 1,000 each on them.


Thieves strike at 2 houses, decamp with valuables
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 22
Thieves struck at two houses in the Shakti Nagar locality and allegedly decamped with cash and valuables worth Rs 12 lakh. Both houses, which were locked belonged to the same family. They came to know about the theft last night only.

According to sources, the theft took place when the families of Shyam Lal and Naval Kishore, both brothers, had gone to New Delhi to attend the marriage of their niece. One of the families returned last night and was shocked to find their house ransacked. Soon, they found that jewellery and cash lying in the house had also been stolen. The sources said the thieves had broken the lock of main entrance of one of the residences and entered the other by breaking the lock of a common door on the first floor.

The family reported the matter to the police at night, but the cops arrived at their house only in the morning. The police then waited for about an hour for the finger print experts and the dog squad, which had gone to Ballianwali in connection with another theft case. ASI Harinder Singh said they had registered a case under sections 457 and 380 of the IPC.

Meanwhile, in another theft case, cash and valuables worth Rs 30,000 were stolen from three residences at Dhade village. SHO Harpal Singh Garewal said the thieves left a trunk midway after taking out the valuables from it. A case has been registered.


Six killed in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 22
Six persons were killed and eight were injured when a Canter collided head on with a truck near Karadwala village in Rampura Phul today.

Sources said the Canter was ferrying waiters of a catering firm to Patiala after a marriage ceremony in Rampura. While five persons died on the spot, another succumbed to his injuries in hospital. Rampura Phul SDM and DSP have rushed to the spot.


12-year-old boy’s body found in drain
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 22
An unidentified body of a 12-year-old boy was found in a dry drain at Thamman Singh Wala village, 8 km from Bhawanigarh, today.

DSP Balbir Singh Khaira said it seemed that the boy had been murdered by gagging his mouth with a cap. The police had registered a murder case under Section 302 of the IPC against unknown persons.

Khaira said the deceased boy was about 4 feet in height and had worn blue pants, grey sweater and shoes of the Nike company.


Intern of medical college assaulted
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 22
The intern of the Government Medical College here was assaulted by a Class IV employee of the college along with six others in the periphery of the college today.

Puneet, the president of the students union, said that the intern Ranbir Singh Lobana had gone to drop his classmates at the gate in the rear of the college hostel.

He said Lobana was confronted by a Class IV employee of the college which led to this incident. The intern has been admitted to the emergency ward of the medical college, he added. He said students have informed the college authorities and warned of an indefinite strike if they failed to take any action.


Row over control of school land resurfaces
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 22
The row over the control of private land on lease with government senior secondary school for girls Pathankot once again erupted today. Workers of the private owner of land Chairman of PUNCOM Sukhdev Wadhera yesterday night blocked one of the passages to the school raising a wall of kucha brick. They also allegedly painted black the boards of the school on the passage to take control of the land.

However, today morning as the news of the closure of passage spread in the area some members of the Parent teacher association (PTA) of the school gathered at the spot and removed the temporary wall raised by the owners. They took the help of the girl students of the school to remove the bricks from the passage. The boards painted black were rewritten and possession of school over the passage restored.

The land, in dispute has been possession of school authorities since decades. The school authorities were paying lease amount of Rs 12 per month to the owners. It was being used as one of the passage to the school.

However, trouble started when Chairman of PUNCOM Sukhdev Wadhera purchased the land from the owners. He later petitioned the government the land be vacated by the school and government obliged.

However, the teachers and students are opposing the move. They are alleging the land was worth lakhs and the Chairman had used his political influence to take over the land from the school.

Sukhdev Wadhera said he was taking over the school land legally. The school principal has deposed in court the institution did not require the land. The court has upheld him as the rightful possessor and owner of the land. It was only after the government’s consent and court order he was taking possession of the land that earlier was on lease with the school.

Some of the PTA members have illegally demolished his temporary structure over the land. They have used force and schoolchildren to demolish the structure. If they are legally correct they should have reported the matter to district administration rather than taking law in their hands. I will report against them with the police, he said.

Earlier also Sukhdev Wadhera had tried take over the land. However, the move was thwarted by school teachers and students.


Avoid distortions in history books, says Dr Grewal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 22
“Historical thinking should be correct besides following the procedures laid while reproducing books on history to avoid distortions”, said Dr J.S. Grewal, noted historian and former Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU).

Dr Grewal said here yesterday though it now was impossible to remove distortions and bring uniformity in the old history of India and Pakistan but the historians should take care while reproducing historical facts in their research in future so that clear picture of the historical facts could be presented before people. He said debates were also held in the past 15 years to 20 years in this regard and various important points were raised at various forums but the historians have failed to remove discrepancies in ancient history by citing their own reasons and evidence.

The former Vice-Chancellor, who had worked as national fellow at the Indian Council of National Research and worked on the project “Contesting Interpretations of Sikh Traditions” said same was the case with the Sikh history. He said there was need to study deeply the Guru Nanak’s biography, development of Sikh ideology and environment, social order and the Sikh identity to remove distortions which had crept in 400-year-old history of the community.

Earlier, while inaugurating a four-week general orientation course-69 organised under the aegis of Academic Staff College of the Guru Nanak Dev University, Dr Grewal said that teachers should realise social and moral responsibilities while accepting challenges in the modern world. He said they should upgrade knowledge of respective disciplines to impart quality education to students and should be conscious of about their role to society.

On the qualities of an ideal teacher, he said education was a noble profession and the teachers in addition to the basic education should inculcate moral and ethical values among students. He said it was the need of the hour that teachers should continue to create new knowledge in their respective subjects. More than 50 teachers from various universities and colleges are taking part in this course.


Orders rescinded: Govt schools to remain open on Saturdays
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The Punjab Government today rescinded its much-criticised step effecting studies of more than 13 lakh school children, saying that government schools would remain open every Saturday and would not be closed on either the second or the fourth Saturday of a month.

The government had issued instructions for closure of schools on the second and fourth Saturday of every month. This meant at least 24 fewer working days in a year for the teachers. The officialdom had opposed the move taken by the political masters, especially the one taken just a few days before the code of conduct was imposed in the state. The state government spends a whopping Rs 3 crore everyday on salaries of teachers.

The closure of schools on two Saturdays every month meant that Rs 36 crore was to be spent annually on teachers’ wages for days when no teaching was to be done. Chief Secretary K.R. Lakhanpal, in concurrence of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, has noted that earlier instructions of closing schools on Saturdays have been withdrawn with immediate effect.

Education minister Pratap Singh Bajwa had made the announcement of closure of schools on Saturdays at a state-level ceremony at Gurdaspur in September last year. He had then said that though personally against the move, he was under pressure to accede to the demand.

The officaldom had pointed out that closing the schools on two Saturdays meant that 13 lakh students in schools would have to forego their free mid-day meal. The mid-day meal scheme has been instrumental in drawing poor children towards education in government schools.


Seminar on forensic medicine begins today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 22
The four-day 28th annual conference of the Indian Academy of Forensic Medicine (Forensic Medicon-2007) organised by the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology will be held at Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Vallah, from tomorrow onwards.

About 300 delegates from all over India and 12 delegates from abroad were likely to take part in the conference. Apart from the forensic medicine experts, substantial number of forensic scientists, legal luminaries, jurists and police officers would be attending the conference.

Former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will inaugurate the conference. It will be presided over by SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar.


Missing DPS students return home
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 22
Three days after they went missing from their hostel, two Delhi Public School (DPS) students have returned to their families, DPS headmistress Neeru Sharma disclosed this in a release here today.

According to her, the stress of board examinations made them to undertake this drastic step. She said as an immediate remedial step the school had appointed a counsellor to make education a stress-free experience for its students. The students — Gurman Sandhu and Vinay Setia — had gone missing from their hostel on the night of February 18.


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