P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


150 years of Kuka Movement
Namdharis can have whatever they want: CM
Tribune News Service

Bhaini Sahib (Ludhiana), April 15
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today regretted that the national heroes were gradually being forgotten. He said a fresh movement needed to be started across the country for creating awareness among the masses, particularly the youth, about national heroes like Satguru Ram Singh.

Addressing a function organised by the state government in the presence of Satguru Jagjit Singh, head of the Namdhari sect, here today to mark 150 years of the Kuka movement, Badal pointed out that these heroes had made great sacrifices for the whole country. But unfortunately it was being made out as if they belonged to Punjab only. He pointed out functions in memory of other heroes like Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Shaheed Udham Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai and others remain restricted to Punjab.

Although Badal made no announcement about any special scheme today, he said whatever orders there would be from the darbar, he would abide by them. Later he told reporters, “I have given them a signed blank paper and they can have whatever they want.”

Leader of the Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal while appreciating the path set by the Namdharis, said it was high time that the modern and future generations were told about their great sacrifices for the freedom of the country.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad general secretary Ashok Singh lauded the contribution of the Namdhari darbar towards social awareness and cow protection, in particular.

Prominent among those present included Lok Sabha deputy speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, Punjab Assembly deputy speaker Satpal Gosain, minister Hira Singh Gabria, local Akali leader Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal, SAD general secretary Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, state BJP president Avinash Rai Khanna, chief parliamentary secretary Jagdish Sawhney.

Interestingly, Satguru Jagjit Singh left the function while Badal was still delivering his presidential address.

Badal, Hanspal share dais

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal shared the dais with former Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president H.S. Hanspal, one of the 19 accused in the Ludhiana City Centre scam, at the 150th anniversary of the Kuka (Namdhari) movement here today. While the Chief Minister presided over the state-sponsored function, Hanspal, president of the Namdhari Darbar, Bhaini Sahib, presented the vote of thanks.

This is in the backdrop of widespread perception prevailing here that Badal has directed the Vigilance Bureau not to arrest Hanspal. However, Badal strongly denied such reports, maintaining that he could neither get anybody arrested nor prevent anybody from getting arrested.

Baba Ajit Singh Poohla, a Nihang leader facing several criminal cases, and currently out on bail, was also sitting on the stage along with leaders like Leader of Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad general secretary Ashok Singhal, state BJP president Avinash Rai Khanna and a number of ministers and legislators.

When confronted by reporters as how could he explain the presence of Hanspal on the dais, Badal evaded a direct reply. However, he remarked that investigations were already going on into the case and it was up to the investigators to decide.

On the other hand, Hanspal said he had already made himself available to the investigating agencies. He disclosed that he had already talked to the vigilance chief and the local SSP and told them about his presence in Ludhiana. “Wherever they require me or need my cooperation I am there,” he told The Tribune. He pointed out that he had already applied for the bail and the decision was pending.


SAD(A) gen secy Jagmohan quits
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 15
Jagmohan Singh, a senior leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), has resigned as the general-secretary of the party and also as its spokesperson. Jagmohan, when asked for reasons for his resignation, which he had served for more than two decades with dedication, refused to spell out anything. However, this correspondent has learnt that he was not satisfied with the functioning of the party and submitted his resignation on April 9 at a party meeting at Fatehgarh Sahib.

Earlier, Simranjit Singh Mann had also submitted his resignation from the presidentship of the SAD(A) following the debacle in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections in February in which the party failed to secure even a single seat. Mann himself lost in the elections. The party rejected the resignation of Mann and asked him to continue to serve the party as its president.

Jagmohan, who was teaching commerce in Jai Hind College, Mumbai, was arrested in the conspiracy case to murder Indira Gandhi and remained behind bars for one-and-a-half years. While talking to The Tribune here on Saturday, Jagmohan said as per the first information report, he had been detained in public interest and as per the release order, he were released in public interest.

He has been the architect of many a document submitted by the party at the national and international fora. He was responsible for 30 per cent reservation for women in the SGPC. He also spearheaded the campaign against the inclusion of Sehajdharis as voters for the SGPC and carried on the campaign for almost a decade till the decision was taken to deny them the right of voting. He was also instrumental in the writing of the memorandum submitted to UN secretary-general Butrosghali during his visit to India, seeking independent and sovereign Sikh state. He personally secured the signatures of Parkash Singh Badal as president of the SAD on this memorandum.

Talking about his future plans, Jagmohan said he would continue his association with his party and Mann, but would seek new avenues and areas for a renewed focus on Sikh nationalism.

Meanwhile, both Mann and Daljit Singh Bittu, senior-vice president of the party, were not available for comments. 


Badals’ case
IT reports show VB’s inefficiency
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
The ongoing trial of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his son and Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) acting president Sukhbir Badal, Chief Minister’s wife Surinder Kaur and others in the disproportionate assets’ case results from investigations conducted by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) during the previous government’s tenure.

While previous Chief Minister Capt Amarinder had repeatedly asserted that Badals had amassed property worth over Rs 3,500 crore by corrupt means, the charge sheet submitted by the Vigilance Bureau (VB) in the court of Ropar special judge G.S. Saran in November 2003 shows assets worth only Rs 78 crore. Despite asserting that a supplementary challan about the remaining wealth and properties would be filed “soon”, no such challan has been filed so far.

The main properties that figure in the VB chargesheet are a house in Sector 9, Chandigarh, a house at Badal village, a farmhouse at Balasar (Sirsa) and Orbit Resorts at Gurgaon.

The challan says that during his tenure as Chief Minister of Punjab from 1997 to 2002, Badal and his kin accumulated assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. However, even as the Amarinder government was bowing out of office, the case took a strange turn. The defence started referring to assessment reports prepared by the Income Tax Department that reportedly pegged the worth of the properties mentioned in the charge sheet at much less than Rs 78 crore.

Though, earlier the prosecution had questioned the maintainability of the IT reports, it had now suddenly changed its stand, even going to the extent of requesting the court to order submission of the reports as well as the communication between the Income Tax Department and the VB in this regard.

Sources said pursuant to the investigation, the VB had requested the director-general, Income Tax (Investigation) to take action against Badal and his family members regarding accumulation of assets disproportionate to the known sources of income. During meetings between VB and IT officials, the issue of joint investigation into the matter also came up.

Therefore, at the instance of the VB, the IT Department conducted valuation and assessment of all properties owned by the accused.

What could probably come to the aid of the Badal family in escaping the dragnet is the fact that the IT Department re-opened the assessments and ultimately passed final orders rejecting the allegations that the accused had either suppressed any income from undisclosed sources or the valuation/assessment was inappropriate.

In a strange twist, which comes out through the perusal of the correspondence appended by the VB, despite IT Department repeatedly asking for material evidence to take legally sustainable action, which could be subjected to judicial scrutiny, no such material was ever supplied.

It remains to be seen of the special judge allows submission of the assessment reports.


5 kids among 9 killed in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Mukerian, April 15
At least nine members of a Gurdaspur-based family, including five children, were killed when the Maruti car they were travelling in collided head-on with a truck on the Talwara-Mukerian road at Lalota village, near Hazipur, this afternoon.

The victims were returning after paying obeisance at the Chintpurni shrine in Himachal Pradesh.

The deceased have been identified as Surjit Kumar, his wife Praveen Kumari, their children Amrit Pal, Shivani and Tannu, Surjit’s niece and nephew Shivani and Rakesh Kumar, respectively, Rajesh Kumar and Ashok Kumar.

According to eyewitnesses, all nine died on the spot. Locals and passersby had a tough time extricating the bodies from the mangled remains of the car. The bodies have been sent to the Civil Hospital, Mukerian, for postmortem.

The police has arrested the truck driver, Mohinder Singh, and a case of rash and negligent driving causing death has been registered against him.

Additional deputy commissioner, Hoshiarpur, Paramjit Singh and senior police officials visited the spot.

The ADC announced a relief of Rs 50,000 each to the next of kin of the adults and Rs 25,000 to the kin of each child.


CM announces relief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today condoled the death of nine members of a family, who were killed in a car accident on the Talwara- Mukerian Road in Hoshiarpur district today.

Condoling the deaths, the Chief Minister directed the deputy commissioner, Hoshiarpur, to immediately arrange for the postmortem of the bodies and also arrange for transportation of bodies to their native place Gurdaspur at the state’s expenses.

The Chief Minister also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 50,000 for death of each adult and Rs 25,000 for the death of each child to be paid to next to the kin of the family.


Drums of beef tallow seized
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, April 15
The local police last night seized a huge quantity of beef tallow and chemicals, which were allegedly to be used for the manufacture of soap at a factory on the Chandigarh-Rajpura road.

While driver of the vehicle Gurmail Singh was arrested, Vijay Kumar, owner of the factory, and another person Kishori Lal were booked under various sections of the IPC.

A police party put up a naka at the Gagan Chowk and signalled a Swaraj Mazda(Hr-62-0381) coming from Chandigarh to stop. Two drums containing beef tallow and 1,400 litres of chemical stored in seven drums were found in the truck.

The police said the material was being transported illegally as no bills were found in the truck. The drums did not bear any manufacturers' names or brand. The source of the origin of material could not be known.

Gurmail told the police that the beef tallow and the chemicals were used to manufacture adulterated soap at the factory, thus hurting the religious sentiments of the people, Rajpura DSP Bhupinder Singh Khatra said.

In the Rajpura area, soap making was a major business.


Serial killings: Police releases sketch
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 15
Releasing the sketch of a suspected serial killer who allegedly had killed five labourers in six months, the Jagraon police has urged people to provide information about him to police officials of their respective areas.

Though the police has made no headway in the case, except preparing the sketch, it claims to have checked further loss of human lives by laying traps during sensitive hours after the detection of the case.

Notwithstanding the gravity of the case, the authorities in adjoining police districts were yet to direct their officials to take preventive action in case the suspect in the Jagraon area shifts his activity to those areas.

Interpreting the information provided by Harbans Singh Kala of Kaler village, the sixth reported victim of the serial killer, the Jagraon police released a sketch for the information of public yesterday evening.

"Harbans Singh, the latest victim of the alleged killer, told us that he seemed to be about 6 feet tall with an athletic body, dark complexion, mullah-style beard. As the victim was not able to recollect details at the initial stage, the preparation of the sketch was delayed," said Bhupinder Singh, DSP, Jagraon, to The Tribune today. Urging the public to provide required information to police officials of their respective area, the DSP cautioned the(public) should not attack the suspect at any cost.

He maintained separate teams led by Dharam Pal, SHO, Sidhwan Bet, and Gurmit Singh, SHO, Sadar Jagraon, had been laying traps in vulnerable areas during sensitive hours after the correlation of evidence of five murder cases and an attempt to murder case, registered at various police stations during six months. No untoward incident was reported after the police started action a fortnight ago.

Meanwhile, Sukhdev Singh, SHO, local police station, denied having received any instruction from the Sangrur police regarding the preventive action to be taken in this regard. The statement made by the sixth target, Harbans Singh, who had survived the attack, led the police to concede that all incidents seemed to be the handiwork of one person only. Till then, the police was treating the murders as separate incidents.

The victims were Gian Deen, resident of Karnail Gate, Jagraon, a migrant labourer (case registered by the GRP, Jagraon, on October 2, 2006), Charrat Singh, alias Kala, of Agwaar Lopon (body found near Truck Union and case registered by sadar police station, Jagraon, on November 1, 2006), Sohan Singh of Ajit Nagar (body found near Landa Phatak, near Kothe Khanjuran, and case registered by the GRP on March 7), an unidentified person (body found near drain on March 26) and Jaswinder Singh of Kothe Raallah (body found near railway station, Jagraon, and case registered by the GRP on March 29). 


SAD-BJP coordination meeting today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
Wanting to keep the “winning momentum”, the ruling SAD-BJP combine in Punjab will hold a crucial coordination meeting here tomorrow to discuss the forthcoming municipal elections and the seat sharing and strategy for these elections. The implementation of the party manifesto will also be discussed.

Sources said even though all BJP’s top leaders may not be able make it to the meeting as all of them have gone to UP in view of the polls there, the scheduled meeting will take place.

The two parties have decided to hold coordination meetings periodically and sort out matters, which may occur on a day-to-day basis in any coalition government.

Already the BJP top leadership has asked all its ministers in Punjab to listen to people and solve their problems. The BJP has decided to have Manoranjan Kalia, Navjot Sidhu and Avinash Rai Khanna as its members of the coordination committee. 


Couple alleges victimisation by police
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Moga, April 15
For Sanjeev Sharma and his wife Sanna life had been like a Bollywood flick in which a couple married against the wishes of their parents to be victimised by the police.

Sanjeev and Sanna, both in their early 20s, hailing from Jammu and Kashmir, tied the nuptial knot a year back against the wishes of Sanna’s parents.

They objected her marrying a Hindu boy, as she was a Muslim. Immediately, after the marriage, Sanna’s parents confined her in the house.

The couple ,somehow, managed to escape and after staying at different places across North India decided to stay with an acquaintance at Kakori Kalan village.

However, someone from the village got in touch with the parents in Jammu and Kashmir and revealed the whereabouts of the couple.

After receiving the information, the parents approached the Jammu police, who after getting in touch with the local police, arrested the couple on charges of eloping.

The police booked the couple under Section 109 of the IPC.

The couple, however, stated that they had married in a court of law and were legally husband and wife.

They alleged that the police not only victimised them, but also mounted pressure on the girl to return to her parents. Sanna said she feared that in case she returned to her parents, they might kill her and her husband.

D.S. Garcha, SSP, said the Jammu SSP had got in touch with him and had stated that the boy had eloped with the girl. After investigating the matter, the police found that the two were legally married. But as a case had already been registered, they had to be produced before the local SDM, after which they were let off.

Meanwhile, the parents, along with some policemen from Jammu, arrived here, but after learning that the police had registered a case against the couple, they returned without them.

The SSP denied any victimisation or mounting of pressure on the girl and stated that the police acted as per the law.


Thousands attend bishop’s installation
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 15
Thousands of Christians from the diocese of Jalandhar (Punjab and four districts of Himachal Pradesh) converged on the St. Mary’s Cathedral premises here to participate in the installation ceremony of new bishop Anil Jose Thomas Couto today.

Couto has replaced Symphorian Keeprath, who served the diocese as its bishop for 35 years. The diocese of Jalandhar was earlier a part of the diocese of Lahore.

It was an impressive sight to watch long queues of priests and nuns, and devotees from far-flung areas offering tributes to their new ‘Shepherd’ as he approached the venue at around 11am along with 10 bishops hailing from different parts of India.

The chimes of the cathedral bells reverberated in the silent, serene atmosphere of the flower-studded Jalandhar cantonment as a symbol of joy and welcome . Everybody present seemed to rejoice over the thought of a new ‘Shepherd’ taking charge of his flock in the land of the five rivers.

Couto was brought from the bishop’s house at the Civil Lines to the church in a procession, led by a motorcade.

Punjabi hymns were rendered by a choir, led by Father Geepy.

archbishop Vincent Consessavo from New Delhi presented the bishop-elect to the rector of Saint Mary’s Cathedral Kurian C. Muttathupadam as per tradition of the church.

Keeprath, the outgoing bishop, and Archbishop Vincent made the new Bishop sit on the “cathedra” chair and welcomed him to an enthusiastic applause from the congregation.


Special team to probe grid fire
Tribune News Service

Moga, April 15
Following the fire at the local power grid in which a 250 MW transformer was destroyed, the Power Grid Corporation of India has constituted a special team comprising senior officials and technical experts. They would be visiting the grid to investigate the exact cause of the fire and to take stock of the situation.

According to the authorities of the grid, the special team is expected to reach here this evening. The team will initiate an independent inquiry tomorrow to ascertain the exact cause of the fire. According to experts, the fire had been caused due to overheating of two bushes of the transformer, which led to the sparking, setting 65,000 litres of transformer oil on fire.

Besides, these officials will also decide whether the destroyed transformer can be recommissioned or a new transformer will have to be installed. Meanwhile, the grid officials maintained that the situation at the grid was completely under control. The two fire engines that were retained by the grid authorities as a precautionary measure were also allowed to return to their base.

Sources said in view of the gravity of the situation the authorities of the grid continued to hold meetings at various levels. The authorities also tried to figure out the exact losses suffered by the corporation. Rough estimates suggested that electrical equipment worth over Rs 15 crore was destroyed in the fire though the exact losses were yet to be ascertained. 


Govt keen on reviving ayurveda: Chawla
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 15
The Health and Family Welfare Department has decided to burn the seized drugs in full public view in Gurdaspur tomorrow, in a bid to check their misuse. This was stated by Laxmi Kanta Chawla, health minister, while talking to The Tribune here today. She said the drive would be launched from Police Lines, Gurdaspur. She said medicines worth Rs 45 lakh seized by the department from different medical stores under the NDPS Act were still languishing in different stores.

Answering another question, she said there were only three drug inspectors in the state who were quite overburdened. With the present strength it was extremely difficult to check the menace of sale of drugs by unscrupulous persons. She said more drug inspectors would be recruited by the state government shortly.

The health minister said the state government would make all-out efforts to revive ayurveda.


Nodal officers to hear grievances
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 15
The district administration has decided to form clusters of eight villages under a nodal officer to hear public grievances every Thursday. The reports will be sent to the deputy commissioner.

This will help in giving attention to every complainant, besides saving time in travelling to the district headquarters. The nodal officers will be sending a copy of the report to the complainant, according to Vivek Pratap Singh, DC, Gurdaspur.

Over 40 complaints relating to the revenue, PWD, improvement trust, panchayats, rural development and police were taken up at a sangat darshan programme organised here on Thursday. A majority of the complaints were sorted out on the spot while the rest were referred to the departments concerned.

Meanwhile, Pathankot SDM S.M. Sharma on Thursday took up 12 cases at the sangat darshan programme, out of which 10 were solved on the spot while one was referred to the police department.

He asked the officers concerned to maintain transparency in solving public problems and be present at every programme. 


Irregularities in training camps alleged

Patiala, April 15
The training camp for panchayat members being organised by the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats has drawn flak. Members of many panchayats have alleged that the camps have been organised in the harvesting season due to which they are not in a position to participate in these.

The members also alleged that while the panchayat members were not participating in the camps, their attendance was being marked. The bills for providing food to the participants were also being raised and resource persons were being paid just to sit idle at the camps.

The department is organising two-day training camp for each panchayat in the harvesting season despite the fact that farmers are busy in their fields these days. Coordinator of the programme Rosy Vaid admitted that complaints were being received from a few centres that very few participants were coming. The training is being suspended at such centres.

Giving details about the programme, she said the government had provided Rs 5 crore for training 96,000 panches, sarpanches and members of block and zila parishads about their rights and duties after the amendment of the constitution empowering local governments. However, the State Institute of Rural Development, Nabha, has till date imparted training to 76,300 members of the government in just Rs 1.5 crore. — TNS


Another ISYF militant nabbed
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 15
Within four months of the arrest of three International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF-Rode group) militants, the district police has nabbed yet another militant of the same group from Ferozepore district.

A special investigating team (SIT) of Jalandhar police nabbed Balbir Singh from his native village Chak Tahliwal falling under police station Mamdot in Ferozepore district yesterday, said SSP Arpit Shukla.

Balbir was a member of a UK-based militant Paramjit Singh Dhaddi gang. Shukla said Balbir was involved in many cases of murder, kidnapping for ransom and other militancy activities. 


100th birthday cake
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 15
Members of the Morning Walkers Club witnessed the 100th birthday celebrations of Chanda Singh Mander, a retired government officer and a regular morning walker, at the Baisakhi programme, held at Baradari Gardens, here today.

S.K.Ahluwalia, commissioner, municipal corporation, was the chief guest on this occasion. He congratulated Chanda Singh on his birthday.

He also lauded the selfless efforts of Tarlochan Singh Jeet, the convenor of this programme, and members of the Morning Walkers Club in organising the event.

Members of the club and other prominent organisations presented Ahluwalia and Chanda Singh with gifts.

On this occasion, garden theatre artists of the National Theatre Arts Society and other artists presented a programme of music, dance and humour. 


Resentment for ignoring dist
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 15
Resentment prevailed among the residents of Sirhind constituency against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for not giving representation to the district in the government even in the recent nominations of chief parliamentary secretaries.

Hundreds of residents of Sirhind town, including some SAD(B) and BJP workers gathered here today. They said the people had high hopes from Badal but all the hopes were belied as the lone SAD(B) MLA from Sirhind Didar Singh Bhatti was not included in the list of the CPS to be administered oath tomorrow.

Several speakers said Fatehgarh Sahib had always remained under developed and all the governments had given step motherly treatment to it. They demanded prompt representation to the district by including their MLA Didar Singh Bhatti in the ministry, so that the development in the district may get impetus.


PSB union members protest
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 15
A meeting of the All India Punjab and Sind Bank Officer’s Union was held at Red Cross Bhavan, here today, under the chairmanship of G.S.Khera, president of the union.

The meeting was held to condemn the attitude of the management of PSB towards the leaders of the unions which unveiled wrong actions of certain officials.

The recent spurt of protection and elevation of the corrupt was condemned by the union members. It was also resolved to break the MoU signed with the management by the unions in 2005, as the same was being used against the employees.

Jasbir Singh Dhanoa, president of the All India PSB Staff Federation, also attended the meeting as a special invitee.

The meeting ended with a stern note that a deputation of 51-members would reach the head office of the PSB in New Delhi on April 21 to hand over the memorandum and mark their resentment.


Firm fined for selling water having coliform
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 15
The District Consumer Redressal Forum, Amritsar, has slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 on a manufacturer of ozonised and UV drinking water and its local retailer.

In his complaint, 78-year-old Jagat Singh, alleged that he had bought 21 cases of ozonized and UV-treated water bearing Swiss marking from Narang Bakery and Department Store for serving the gathering at a function to mark the death anniversary of his wife. Jagat Singh said when he bought the product he was told that that it was an ISI marked product. However, when the water was served, some people threw away the cups.

He further said the matter was reported to the bacteriologist to the Government of Punjab, Amritsar, and it was found that the number of coliforms present per 100 ml of water was 18 and the water sample was found unsatisfactory. The complainant alleged that he had been supplied defective water and this affected his reputation.

On the other hand, the manufacturer and retailer said the complaint was not legally maintainable and had been filed only to harass, even though there was no deficiency in service. They denied giving any assurance to the complainant that the water was ISI marked.

In its order, the forum ruled that the manufacturer and retailer had not questioned the genuineness of the report of the bacteriologist and they merely said they were not called at the time of checking. It said it was of the view that the opposite party had committed acts of gross negligence and they were deficient in providing services by supplying non-potable water.

The agency holder has been directed to pay Rs 7,000 and the manager and the managing director of the company have been asked to pay Rs 7,000 and Rs 11,000 respectively.


SRI method can save water: Agri-expert
P.K. Jaiswar

Manawala (Amritsar), April 15
As the water level in Punjab is going down every year due to the vicious paddy and wheat cycle, adoption of the system of rice intensification (SRI) method can prove to be a boon for farmers in this border state.

Stating this, P. Kishan Rao, an agriculture expert from Hyderabad, told The Tribune here today that by using this method, farmers could, on an average, save 40 per cent of the water needed for the conventional rice cultivation, depending upon the kind of soil, besides increasing the crop yield by 50 per cent.

He was here on an invitation of the Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM) to hold a workshop for promoting natural farming methods in Punjab.

Rao interacted with various agriculture experts, farmers and representatives of NGOs at the Manawala branch of Pingalwara here, detailing the SRI method.

Rao said the SRI method reduced, or eventually eliminated, the need for chemical fertilisers as well as reduced the seed requirement by up to 95 per cent without hampering crop production.

Certain areas in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, where the SRI method was adopted for experimentation, yielded excellent results as farmers got more than six tonnes per hectare production as compared to about four tonnes per hectare.


1 hurt as Nihangs clash at Talwandi Sabo
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 15
An armed clash between two factions of Nihangs took place today at Takht Damdama Sahib during the ongoing Baisakhi festival, leaving a 14-year-old boy seriously injured.

Acting swiftly after getting information of the clash, the district police authorities deployed a heavy contingent of police in and around the headquarters of 96 Crori Buddha Dal Cantonment, headed by Baba Santa Singh.

The boy identified as Prince of Khokhar Kalan village of Bathinda district, who suffered bullet injuries on one side of his chest, was taken to the local Civil Hospital. He was later referred to the Civil Hospital, Bathinda. Rajinderpal Singh, SDM, Talwandi Sabo said as Prince had suffered serious damages to internal vital organs, apart from a fracture on one of his arms, his condition was being constantly monitored by a panel of doctors.

Naresh Arora, SSP, Bathinda, said a case under Sections 307, 148 and 149 of the IPC and Section 25 of the Arms Act had been registered against those who had allegedly fired shots in the cantonment.

Police sources said one faction of Nihangs led by Surjit Singh allegedly fired shots at Balbir Singh, another Nihang leader, while the latter was coming out of a gurdwara.

Balbir alleged that Surjit Singh, Paramjit Singh, Mithu Singh and Malkit Singh along with about 50 armed men, attacked him with fire-arms. He said the attackers allegedly fired about 20 shots but he escaped unhurt. He added that Surjit was harbouring animosity against him after Baba Santa Singh declared him as his legal heir.

Meanwhile, perhaps for the first time,the traditional concluding day procession of the Baisakhi mela, taken out by the Nihangs, called 'mohalla' in local parlance, was cancelled here today,after a firing incident.

Today was the concluding day of the Baisakhi celebrations and the Nihangs had decided to take out their procession.


Betting racket busted, 6 held
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 15
The local police today arrested six youths involved in betting for the Cricket World Cup.

The operation was conducted by the CIA staff, Handiaya, under the supervision of SP (D) Sukhdev Singh Bhatti.

Eleven mobile phones used for interacting with clients, Rs 46,000 and a Maruti Zen were seized from the gang. Those arrested are Kuldeep Kumar, Bushan Kumar, Parveen Kumar, Vijay Kumar, Raju Sharma and Kasturi Lal, all residents of Barnala.

Paramjeet Singh Garewal, SSP, Barnala, said the police had recovered some diaries having details of persons involved in this illegal trade.

Kuldeep, the kingpin of the gang, said many persons used to call in order to make bids. The daily business used to run into several lakhs and members got 2 per cent commission.

He said there were betters in Abohar, Delhi and Chandigarh.

The police would verify how these persons got mobile connections without verification, said the SSP.

A case has been registered.


Notification leaves medical college staff high and dry
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, April 15
Doctors, nurses and para-medical employees of Guru Gobind Singh Medical College here face an uncertain future as far as their services are concerned due to a notification issued by the previous Congress government. They are now contemplating seeking the Chief Minister's intervention for sorting out the issue.

As per the notification, the employees already working in the medical college would remain employees of the state government, except the fact that they would be placed under the administrative control of the Baba Farid University for Health Sciences (BFUHS). The notification stated that these employees would carry on receiving their salary, pensionary and other benefits on a par with state government employees, but their salary would come from the grant-in-aid received by the university.

Legal experts after going through the notification stated that in case the employees of the college draw their salaries from the grant-in aid, it would imply that their services were no longer under the state government and would mean a break in their government service.

The notification had been issued in October last year at the time when the BFUHS took over Faridkot Medical College to meet the specification of the Medical Council of India.

The government treasury of Faridkot has already refused to release salaries of these employees. The employees maintained that the situation was likely to aggravate further as the paucity of grant-in-aid might deny them salaries. 


Medical teachers hail raise of retiring age
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 15
Dr Baljeet Singh Pannu, ex-chairman of the Punjab Medical Teachers’ Association, has welcomed the decision of the Punjab Government to enhance the age of retirement of medical teachers to 60 years. He, however, said this was a temporary measure to overcome the crisis and real issue still had not been touched.

For instance, there should be regular appointment at the entry point by the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC)every three months and names of doctors meeting requisite criterion should be cleared three months ahead of vacancies as done by the Punjab State Electricity Board.

Posts should be withdrawn from the PPSC and rapid time-bound promotions and re-designation of higher post after stipulated period should be done.He added the designation of medical officers as lecturer, who are sticking to post irregularly for the sake of staying in city without interest in the particular subject of their posting is a retrograde step and against the norm .Therefore, legitimate right of the meritorious students will be overlooked and would lead to litigations.

The dead line of March 31 set by the MCI during its previous visit was not fulfilled and lack of infrastructure, buildings, equipment and a non-functional emergency wing should be looked into.

The fact that important posts of principal, vice- principal and medical superintendent in all medical colleges are still ad hoc should also be looked into.


Crash course for poor students launched
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 15
Former UPSC chairman S.J.S. Chatwal and cardiologist T.S. Kaler today inaugurated the crash course for imparting free training to poor students for appearing in professional course entrance tests.

The course was being organised by the Gyan Sewa Trust at its office at Khadoor Sahib and was being sponsored by writer Patwant Singh. Chairman of the trust H S Phoolka was also present on the occasion.

Phoolka said 32 deserving students had been selected from different areas for free training. While 14 students had been picked up from Nawanshahr district, 18 had been selected from Khadoor Sahib and Tahlewal village near Barnala.


BEd teachers demand lecturer payscale

Batala, April 15
In a signed press statement issued here today the Union of Graduate Teachers of Government Schools demanded lecturer payscales for teachers (BEd) who were holding postgraduate degrees.

Surinder Mohan Gupta, head of the state unit of the union, stated that as per decision dated March 19, 1996, of the Supreme Court, all postgraduate teachers were entitled for the grant of lecturer scales in view of government circulars. However, the government had failed to comply with the direction, he added.

The union gave a memorandum to the Chief Minister, state education minister Upinder Jit Kaur and DPI(S). — OC


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