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Rain, hailstorm damage wheat crops
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda/Mansa, April 18
High velocity winds accompanied by hailstorms and rain which hit various parts of the districts have caused significant damage to the standing wheat crops apart from destroying the cotton crop.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that hailstorms had flattened the standing wheat crop in large number of villages falling under the Sangat block of the Bathinda district while farmers suffered huge losses in Mansa, Bhikhi and Jhunir blocks of Mansa district.

Not only this, winds accompanied by rain and hailstorm has also hampered the harvesting of wheat and its procurement. In some purchase centres heaps of wheat have been declared unfit for procurement due to the rain.

Though the authorities of both districts claimed that not much damage had been caused to the standing wheat and cotton crops, affected farmers had urged the Chief Minister to immediately order a special girdawri.

While affected farmers of Bathinda district claimed that loss to the standing wheat crop was about 15 per cent, chief agriculture officer Palwinder Singh Aulakh claimed that it was not more than 2 to 3 per cent. He added that minimal damage had been done to the wheat crop at Nandgarh Jai Singh Wala, Ghudha villages and a few others falling in the Sangat block.

Phillaur: More than 1.5 lakh wheat bags lying open in grain markets of Apra, Lassarha, Partappura, Maosahib, Muthada Khurad and Phillaur since April 12, due to a dispute between two groups of truck operators, have not been lifted.

When The Tribune team visited these mandis today, thousands of wheat bags were found stacked on wet floors of Apra mandi this afternoon. Commission agent Surjit Kumar Basundara of Apra and Yog Dutt Sharma of Lassarha mandi said though wheat purchase was normal, but the purchased wheat could not be lifted due to the dispute between truck operators. Thus, more than 1.5 lakh quintal of wheat was getting damaged due to uncertain weather. They alleged a few commission agents yesterday sat on dharna in front of the SDM Pritam Singh’s office and submitted a memorandum to him. In it they had requested him to make adequate arrangements for lifting the wheat from mandis.

Barnala: Ill-timed rainfall and the fire that broke out in the fields have destroyed standing wheat crops at Thikriwala, Kairan, Maur Nabha and Handiaya villages during the past 24 hours.

An hour-long hailstorms accompanied by the rain has caused huge loss to the farmers. Thousand metric tones of wheat lying in the local grain market have got wet. Due to large amount of moisture its purchase could be delayed. The harvesting of wheat has also been hit hard as the combines failed to run on the wetland.

Patiala: The unexpected rain damaged wheat crop in mandis and fields in the district. The harvested wheat lying in the fields sustained maximum damage. Sources here said the unexpected rain was likely to delay the procurement process as farmers would now have to wait for the crop to dry up before taking it mandis.

The heavy showers would also have an adverse affect on the yield of crops standing in the fields. The harvested crop lying in bundles in the fields would also become prone to the fungal diseases. The farmers would now have to un-bundle harvested crop and dry it before sending it for thrashing.

Hoshiarpur: A high-velocity dust storm followed by light rain struck the district last night and uprooted trees, electricity poles in the area. As a result the traffic on almost all roads and power supply in both urban and rural areas of the district were disrupted.

Deputy commissioner D.K. Tiwari said in Mukerian subdivision the tin sheet-roofs of 11 houses at Rakri and its adjoining villages were torn apart. However, no loss of life and to standing crops had been reported from any corner of the district.

 

Warrant officer rescues 3 from illegal custody
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bhagta Bhai Ka (Bathinda), April 18
Three residents of Malooka village of Bathinda district were rescued from the illegal custody of the local police tonight by a warrant officer appointed by the Punjab and Haryana high court.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that three persons, identified as Gagan Khan, Charna Singh and Binder Singh, were rescued by warrant officer Iesh Kumar, who was appointed by the Punjab and Haryana high court to do the needful after the kin of the victims filed a writ petition.

All three victims, who were having leaning towards the Congress, were taken into illegal custody about three days ago. One of the victims was finding it difficult to walk when the warrant officer raided the local police post as he was allegedly tortured by the police.

Official sources said when Iesh Kumar checked the “rojnamcha” of the police post, he could not find any entry in connection with the three victims, who had been in the illegal custody for the past two days or so.

Om Parkash, in charge, local police post, when contacted, said he was not aware of any raid as he had gone to the Bathinda civil hospital after he received information in connection with a medico-legal case.

However, Jagjit Singh, SHO, Dyalpura police station, under whose jurisdiction the local police post falls, when contacted, said some persons were wanted in connection with two cases registered at Dyalpura police station under the NDPS Act and hence the accused had deliberately entered into the police post after arranging a raid by the warrant officer so that they could prove the point that they had been taken into illegal custody. He said there was no person in the lockup of the police post.

The information revealed that when Iesh Kumar conducted the raid, only one policeman was on duty on the entrance gate of the police post. When that policeman came to know that a raid had been conducted, he also left the police post. After sometime, a head constable came into the police post.

Naresh Arora, SSP, when contacted, said after he came to know about the raid conducted by the warrant officer at Bhagta Bhai Ka police post, he immediately asked the DSP, Rampura Phul, to reach the spot to inquire into the matter. He added that whatever report would be submitted by the DSP in writing, action would be taken on the same accordingly.

Meanwhile, the Congress leadership of Rampura Phul subdivision has decided to launch an agitation from tomorrow to lodge protest against the atrocities being committed on innocent people by the police under the diktats of their political masters on the basis of party lines.

 

Chahal gets 15 days’ time
High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 18
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today gave 15 days’ time to B.I.S. Chahal, media adviser to previous Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, to be personally present in the court for the hearing of the contempt case against him. This, the court said, was the last opportunity being granted to Chahal.

During resumed hearing of the case, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Kumar Jain, Justice Rajive Bhalla and Justice Surya Kant again took serious note of Chahal’s absence, with the Chief Justice even dubbing the medical certificates submitted by Chahal to seek exemption as a ruse to avoid appearing in the court.

Chahal and a former officer of the Punjab Sports Department are facing contempt of court proceedings for their questionable role in an important file pertaining to the selection of DSPs under the sportspersons category by the previous government going missing. The file had been ordered to be produced before the Bench hearing the matter.

In his application for grant of exemption, Chahal, who has claimed to be under treatment at Glasgow (Scotland), submitted two certificates by two doctors. Both doctors have said Chahal was suffering from a heart problem.

However, questioning the veracity of the certificates, amicus curiae Anupam Gupta told the court that he had consulted a senior cardiologist who has said there was no objective sign of any heart disease that one could gather from the report.

He also referred to the remark made by one of the doctors — Dr Rajan Madhok — whose report says that Chahal was “reluctant to stay” in his hospital wards for further investigation and that arrangements were being made for him to be evaluated by a cardiologist suitable to his current residence.

Incidentally, the report of another doctor — Dr Robin J. Northcote —who is a consultant cardiologist in Glasgow, says Chahal is moderately overweight and has sinus rhythm. The report goes on to say that he has heart sounds of normal intensity with no cardiac murmurs and that the chest was clinically clear. The doctor has also recommended hopitalisation in order to perform diagnostic arteriography and advised him against any international travel.

To this, the Chief Justice remarked how could any doctor give such an advice. The Bench also posed a few questions about the medical condition of the contemnor to his counsel. After hearing counsel, the court fixed May 2 as the next date of hearing.

 

Tax on molasses to be slashed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
The Punjab government will soon slash the tax on molasses from 22 per cent to 4 per cent to bring it on a par with that fixed in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to ensure a level playing field to the sugar industry in the state.

This assurance was given yesterday by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to the Bharatiya Kisan Union headed by Balbir Singh Rajewal. Badal held a meeting with Rajewal, Onkar Singh Augal, Parminder Singh Chalaki, Pipal Singh, Gulzar Singh and other leaders of the BKU here.

Badal also directed the officers concerned to find a way to tackle the problem created by the dumping of large stocks of sugar at various places by the owners of sugar mills in UP. Rajewal informed Badal that the UP government provided Rs 30 per quintal as subsidy for transporting sugar from that state to Punjab. The dumping of sugar by the millers from UP had been adversely affecting the local sugar industry.

Badal directed the cooperation department to submit a detailed proposal to revive all sick sugar mills in the cooperative sector and enhance the crushing capacity of the existing mills. He also underlined the need for setting up power generation units in these sugar mills to make them more viable and asked the cooperation department to tie up with the Punjab Energy Development Authority in this behalf.

Badal also asked chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh to find out what legal measures had been taken by the Himachal Pradesh government to reserve 75 per cent jobs for domiciles of that state. Rajewal asked Badal to adopt similar measures in Punjab.

The Chief Minister directed the revenue department to ensure uncontested mutations to be done in the name of buyers/ successors within one month as per the instructions already issued by the department. He said tehsildars should be held accountable for any lapse or flouting of the instructions. Rajewal proposed to organise “mutation melas” at the subdivisional level to clear the backlog of mutations .

On the power front, Badal asked chairman of the PSEB Y.S.Ratra to chalk out a time-bound strategy to minimise line losses. Ratra assured the Chief Minister of eight-hour uninterrupted power supply from June 10 to farmers for the transplantation of paddy.

Badal also asked the PSEB to reduce the duration of power cuts.

Rajewal demanded the revamp of the education system in the rural areas. Showing concern over the growing tendency of drug addiction among youth, Rajewal asked the Chief Minister to take effective measures to save the state’s youth from this death trap.

Badal gave an assurance that the government would soon recruit school teachers in the villages and upgrade the infrastructure to provide better opportunities to rural students. He said drug inspectors would be soon recruited to keep a strict check on those chemists who were selling drugs to youth.

The BKU also urged the government not to allow the transplantation of paddy before June 15. It asked Badal to revive the one-time loan settlement scheme and the sanjivini scheme.

 

‘Doc-chemist nexus claims patient’s life’
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Chhak Bhatian (Pathankot), April 18
An alleged doctor-chemist nexus, illegally selling blood in the Civil Hospital, Pathankot, claimed a patient’s life last evening.

A patient of piles, Charan Singh (52), a resident of this sleepy village, had approached a local chemist, running his shop in front of the hospital, and asked for his help for a surgery at the hospital. The chemist, owner of Kumar Medical Store, told him that since he (chemist) was friendly with some hospital doctors, he would help to get his surgery arranged in the hospital.

Charan Singh, with the help of the chemist, was then registered and admitted to the hospital. The patient was later allegedly asked to arrange two units of blood matching his own group (A+).

Narrating the sequences of events, Charan Singh’s wife Rita Devi told The Tribune that yesterday doctors, instead of providing them blood from the hospital’s blood bank, told them they could get blood units from a chemist shop in front of the hospital. They did what the doctors told them, added Rita Devi.

Charan Singh started shivering and developed fever just minutes after the blood transfusion started. “He also vomited and complained of abdomen pain. I approached a staff nurse but she could not do anything to help,” recalled Rita Devi in a choked voice.

The family members then called their village sarpanch Rajinder Singh for help when hospital doctors, including emergency medical officer (EMO), failed to diagnose the reason and declared him dead at about 8.45 pm on Tuesday.

The villagers, lead by Rajinder Singh, reached the hospital and raised the issue. They also managed to get back a bottle of blood, being given to Charan Singh, from the hospital.

Rajinder Singh told TNS that no senior doctors met them. Repeated calls to the doctors and the police proved futile.

Despite the controversy, the hospital administration later handed over the body to the family members and declaring it as a natural death.

The villagers alleged that some doctors of the Civil Hospital and chemists running medical shops in front of the institution were in cahoots with each other.

“The doctors have been selling blood units of the blood bank at the hospital through the chemists on a commission basis. Similar cases have also come to light in past,” alleged Rajinder Singh.

Senior Medical Officer, Pathankot, Ravi Dogra, however, denied the doctors-chemist nexus. He claimed that Charan Singh was given the same blood that the patient himself had arranged from a donor.

Experts were also called to examine if Charan Singh had died of blood reaction. “I have seized the hospital records relating to this incident and an inquiry has been marked,” he claimed.

 

Human Trafficking
Paramjeet’s in-laws paid money to agent
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Feroz Sanghowal (Kapurthala), April 18
The woman, Paramjeet Kaur (26), whom a Gujarat BJP MP Babubhai Katara tried to take on his wife Shardaben Katara’s passport to Toronto belongs to this village of Bholath subdivision in Kapurthala district.

Her sister-in-law (brother’s wife) Rajinder Kaur told The Tribune today that Katara was trying to take Paramjeet to Toronto. An agent, Joginder Singh, living in a nearby village, Fatehgarh Seikri, had demanded Rs 30 lakh for taking her to Toronto.

She further said Paramjeet Kaur’s in-laws had paid Rs 1.1 lakh to the agent in advance about three months ago and the remaining amount was to be paid after the completion of the task.

Corroborating her statement, a former sarpanch of the village, Balkar Singh, said Paramjeet Kaur’s in-laws had paid money to the agent for taking her to Toronto with the help of Katara on his wife’s passport.

Former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur whose Begowal village is adjacent to Feroz Sanghowal told The Tribune that Paramjeet Kaur was married about four years ago to a boy whose family was living at Tahli village in Hoshiarpur district.

Paramjeet Kaur’s father Baldev Singh and mother Mohinder Kaur said her husband, Paramjeet Singh, was presently in the USA and he was to take her with him from Toronto.

Earlier talking to The Tribune, the Kapurthala SSP said the police was in constant touch with the New Delhi police in connection with the case.

Meanwhile, Jalandhar Regional Passport Officer Amarjeet Singh said he was unable to say on the issue without seeing the records that whether Paramjeet Kaur had been issued a fake passport from his office or not.

 

Rural funds
Centre’s threat to Punjab
Ajay Banerjee /Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
The union ministry of rural development has made it clear that Punjab may not be eligible for grants in the rural sector as several guidelines to avail itself of the funds and ensure proper utilisation do not exist.

A sum of Rs 270 crore has to be given by the government of India during the current financial year.

Union secretary for rural development and panchayats Meenakshi Dutta Ghosh did some plain speaking with a team of top Punjab officials on a visit to the state two days ago, well-placed sources in the state government said today. She had also met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at his residence during her visit and apprised him of the bottlenecks and also changes that were required for the state to avail itself of the grants.

Part of the problem is the legacy of the previous Amarinder Singh government. Crucially, the district planning committees were to be constituted by June, 2006. The union government says funds for rural development cannot be released unless these committees, which will plan and execute programmes, are formed. Punjab has pleaded that the elections to panchayat samitis and zila parishads are scheduled for June and the committees will be formed thereafter.

Also, the state government has been asked to release its share of grants under a backward region grant fund to be eligible for the next instalment of central grants. The last instalment of Rs 7.50 core that the Punjab government was to pay in the last fiscal year has not been paid. Ghosh and her team of officials pointed out that Punjab should first release its share and then seek money for last year and also the current financial year.

The government of India has suggested that Punjab should make an immediate beginning by earmarking at least 10 per cent of the state budget to route funds for 29 departments through the panchayats. The functions of the 29 departments have to be carried out by the panchayats.

 

Blueprint for restructuring SAD
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Working president of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Sukhbir Singh Badal has started preparing a blueprint for the restructuring of the party as well as its frontal organisation such as the youth wing and student wing from the grassroots to the top level.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Sukhbir Badal said he had a definite vision as far as the restructuring of the party and its other organisations were concerned.

Asked if he wanted to raise the party structure following the pattern adopted by the CPM in West Bengal, Sukhbir Badal said it would be bit different from that model. “Yes, I would set up party units at the village level by constituting 11 to 21 members’ committees depending on the size of the village population,” he said. And members of these committees would be issued identity cards. The reorganisation process, he said, would begin with the youth wing of the party. “The reorganisation of the youth wing will being in a month or so,” he said. And later, the Student Organisation of India (SOI), a student wing of the party, would be reorganised. And after completing this exercise, the party would be restructured, he added.

Party units from the village to state level would be linked with “smart communication network,” he claimed. Facilities such as internet connections and other channels of communications would be provided to party units at the village, block, district and state level, he added.

To expand its base, the party would include new sections of society in its fold. Already, there was a major shift in the party’s approach as far as consolidating of its support base was concerned.

While inducting the chief parliamentary secretaries, president of the party Parkash Singh Badal gave what can be called overwhelming representation to MLAs from Dalits and backward communities. He also accommodated some Hindu MLAs though they were elected for the first time. Even while allocating tickets, the senior Badal had put up some Hindu candidates.

From the party of Jat Sikhs and peasantry, the focus of the party leadership was to make it all-inclusive organisation. In fact, Sikh peasantry by and large sided with the Congress in the last assembly elections whereas other communities had turned towards the SAD.

Sukhbir Badal said the SAD would buy land from its own funds at all district headquarters to built its high-tech offices. “These offices will work like corporate offices,” he said. The land bought to set up offices would be the property of the party and not of any individual. Already, the party office was near completion in the City Beautiful.

 
 


War of succession
Balbir Singh appointed heir by Nihang chief
Chander Parkash
Tribune News service

Talwandi Sabo, April 18
The war of succession, which has been going on among various groups of Nihangs owing allegiance to 96 Crori Shiromani Panth Akali Baba Budha Dal, headed by Baba Santa Singh, today came to an end when Baba Santa Singh formally announced Balbir Singh as his legal heir.

Different groups of Nihangs have been vying for this status for the past many years. On a number of occasions the groups have clashed with each other to establish their supremacy and to establish their claim on the fact that a particular follower of the Dal is entitled to be legal heir of Baba Santa Singh.

A clash between two groups of Nihangs took place recently on April 15, the concluding day of Baisakhi mela, when a group of Nihangs, headed by Surjeet Singh, allegedly attacked Balbir Singh with fire arms when he was coming out of Gurudwara Degsar located in the head quarter premises of the Dal here. Surjeet Singh was earlier appointed as legal heir by Baba Santa Singh and then removed from the same status after few months.

Apart from it the differences between Balbir Singh and Baba Santa Singh came to fore about a decade ago and a clash also took place between the supporters of both on the occasion of the then Baisakhi mela here. After that incident, the district police authorities used to disarm the Nihangs belonging to both the groups before the state of Baisakhi mela every year.

A compromise was reached between Baba Santa Singh and Balbir Singh a few months ago with the efforts by a section of those who mattered most into the management of affairs of the Dal. After the compromise between Baba Santa Singh and Balbir Singh, a group of Nihangs led by Surjeet Singh, who was in charge of horse section also, started claiming that Balbir Singh should not be given any sort of power into the Dal.

A press note carrying left thumb impression (LTI) of Baba Santa Singh issued here today, said that Baba Santa Singh had appointed Balbir Singh as his legal heir out of free will as he (Baba Santa Singh) was happy over his (Balbir Singh’s) services rendered to the Dal.

Baba Santa Singh also informed about this appointment to district jathedars, circle jathedars, Nihangs’ cantonment in charges, Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC), government and semi-government departments. Baba Santa Singh had also entrusted Balbir Singh with powers to perform all duties for the Dal with absolute rights.

Udey Singh, nephew of Baba Santa Singh, when contacted, while confirming the appointment of Balbir Singh as legal heir of Baba Santa Singh, said that Kulwant Singh Chankiya had been appointed as in charge, horse section of the Dal and Baba Dyal Singh had been appointed as general power of attorney. He added that he was made an independent in charge of educational wing of the Dal.

 

World Heritage Day
Police vacates 231-yr-old heritage building
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 18
The Police Department completely vacated the 231-year-old building, adjoining the historical Ram Bagh Gate, marking the World Heritage Day, here today.

The lone surviving historical gate of the walled city had a long association with the police. Ram Bagh Gate was one of the most important police establishments after the city was conquered by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1802 AD , who had appointed official designated as ' Nizam' who was responsible for police duties and would operate from the Ram Bagh Gate. The unit, called Sherdil Regiment, was responsible for police duties at that time. It was Maharaja Ranjit Singh who spent huge sums on the fortification of the city and on the Harmandir Sahib . Before the Maharaja' s rule, the city was ruled since 1776 by Bhangi Misls and they used the gate for policing purposes.

The outgoing district police chief S.S. Srivastava played a significant role in the shifting of the Police Department from the heritage building to an adjoining new building.

S.P, City, Kaustab Sharma, today arranged a police-public meeting at the Ram Bagh Police station on the World Heritage Day to highlight the association of the police with the history of the city of Amritsar.

However, the local administration has yet to clear the rest of the encroachments in the vicinity of the heritage building. Some of the modern constructions ,adjoining the heritage building, have become big eyesore for the heritage lovers.

 

Complaints against VC: Governor seeks comments
from govt

Tribune News Service

Patiala April 18
The Governor-cum- chancellor, Punjabi university, has sought comments from the Punjab government on the complaints against vice-chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai.

Convener of the joint action committee of the employees and students seeking the removal of the VC, Manjit Singh told newsmen here today they had submitted a compliant on corruption in university to the Governor and sought a hearing. The complaint enumerates appointments allegedly made at the behest of political or influential persons and ad hoc appointments made against non- existent posts.

‘The secretary to the Governor today called me up. He told t the complaint against the VC had been forwarded to the government for comments. The members of the joint action committee would be called for personal hearing by the Governor after comments on the complaint are received from the government,’ Manjit Singh claimed. Secretary to the Governor NS Kang on phone admitted the complaint of the joint action committee had been referred to the government for comments and necessary action. Meanwhile the members of the joint action committee continued their dharna before the office of the VC today also. They claimed the recent developments as a major victory. Yesterday night agitators marched in the university carrying torches, seeking the removal of the VC. They marched through the campus raising slogans against the VC. The university has obtained an order from court staying all kinds of protests inside the campus but agitators are carrying out their activities. The local administration was acting as a mute witness to such activities The VC alleged he had talked to the local administration many times but it had failed to act against the agitators vitiating the academic atmosphere of the institution.

Senior Akali leaders ,including party MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha have already addressed the protesters against the VC. The university authorities in a press note here have condemned political interference in the university. They have claimed the university made rapid progress during the tenure of the present vice-chancellor. The educational avenues for rural students from the Malwa region have, especially , received boost from the policies of the present VC.

 

Security for VIPs reviewed

Chandigarh, April 18
The security arrangements for several VIPs were reviewed at a meeting of senior Punjab police functionaries today at which it was pointed out that a full-time officer of the rank of SP or DSP was required with former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

At present, Khubi Ram, who was SP, CM security, during Amarinder Singh’s tenure, was posted with the former Chief Minister. Khubi Ram is at present the commandant of a battalion based at Bahadurgarh, near Patiala, and the management of the security of the former Chief Minister could have suffered.

Also, at the meeting it was pointed out that the security personnel posted with Mohd Izhar Alam, A.P. Pandey and Sanjiv Gupta, far exceeded their allocation of 11 men. Alam and Pandey are in the DG rank while Gupta is an IG.

Meanwhile, a few PPS officers who had served at key posts during militancy have pointed out that they are allowed fewer security men than their actual requirement. — TNS

 

Manpreet to interact with admin secys
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal will interact with all heads of departments and administrative secretaries concerned before finalising the state budget.

Official sources said this exercise would be held for the first time in the state.

“Interaction with the administrative secretaries will start soon”, said a senior officer of the finance department. “After discussions with the officers concerned, we will be come to know what their priority areas are”, said the officer.

Besides, Badal would meet representatives of various organisations to get their views on budgetary matters, said the officer. Usually, such an interaction is held at the national level. However, now Badal wants to start this exercise at the state level.

 

Govt to recruit more drug inspectors
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 18
The Punjab Government will recruit more drug inspectors. The decision has been taken by the Health Department considering the vacancies of drug inspectors in different districts, according to Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Punjab health minister, who was on a visit to the city here on Monday.

Expressing concern over the menace of drug addiction in the state, the minister appealed to the parents and the general public to come forward and join the state government against drug abuse. At a meeting with medical officers of the district, she claimed that the government had framed a policy for honouring five doctors, staff nurses and class IV employees each at district level for rendering excellent services.

She was speaking at the inaugural address of a seminar on “Female foeticide and AIDS” at Congress Bhavan. The minister expressed concern on the declining sex ration in the state. She also visited drug de-addiction and rehabilitation centres run by the Red Cross Society and interacted with its inmates.

The minister was accompanied by B.K.S. Sidhu, health secretary, Punjab, Sita Ram, MLA, Dina Nagar, and many senior Congress leaders of the district.

 

Duleep Singh’s bust to be auctioned today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 18
Even as Baba Mohinder Singh , head, UK-based Nishkam Jatha, has reportedly decided to stay away from the auction of the 150-year-old bust of Maharaja Duleep Singh, proposed to be held at New Bond Street Bonhams tomorrow, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) chief expressed hope that ‘come what may, the bust would be brought to India .

Talking to TNS, Daljit Singh Bedi, an assistant secretary with SGPC, claimed that all arrangements had been made to purchase the bust on behalf of Anandpur Sahib Foundation.

After meeting Baba Mohinder Singh in Bonhams, UK-based Sikh scholar and veteran journalist Nirpal Singh Shergill said that Nishkam Sewa Jatha chief had refused to enter into any controversy though he was requested by the SGPC to participate in the proposed auction.

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is the world’s oldest and largest auctioneer of fine art and antiques remaining with British ownership. It has made all necessary arrangements for the open auction of the bust of Maharaja Duleep Singh.

According to Shergill, the bust, 74-cm high in white marbel, was made by British sculptor John Gibson at the end of 1859 in Rome. It remained with Maharaja Duleep Singh till 1893 in Elveden Hall at his Thetford Palace and then till 1926 with Prince Fredrick Duleep Singh at Norton Hall, Norfolk. The bust of the Indian prince and Sikh hero, Maharaja Duleep Singh, is likely to be sold at an estimated sum of £25,000 to £35,000.

Maharaja Duleep Singh, the Maharaja of Lahore and king of the Sikh Empire, was born on September 6, 1838, the son of the legendary ruler of Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

 

Kirtan with traditional string instruments at Harmandar Sahib
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 18
Devotees visiting the Golden Temple here today got an opportunity to hear kirtan with traditional string instruments by the jatha of Gurnam Singh, professor and head of the Department of Gurmat Sangeet, Punjabi University, Patiala.

Kirtan marked the guruship day of Guru Angad Dev and Gurpurb of Guru Teg Bahadur and the instruments, included rabab, siranda, taus, israj, dilruba, tanpura, swarmandal and tamboora.

Gurnam Singh said raagis should switch over to this traditional form of kirtan and the department was willing to provide he training.

Gurmat Sangeet is a unique musical tradition of the Sikh religion established and preached by all Sikh Gurus, right from Guru Nanak Sahib, founder of Sikhism.

According to Gurnam Singh, under Gurmat Sangeet, the divine message is communicated through Shabad Kirtan. In Sikhism Shabad Kirtan has been made an inseparable part of the Sikh way of life. Kirtan Chauki tradition is in vogue in the gurdwaras for centuries and Kirtan tradition in practice on special occasions of the Sikhs is an extended form of this tradition. This practical Kirtan tradition is in accordance with the Shabad Guru of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

The Bani of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, written and indexed according to the prescribed ragaas, singing forms, music signs, headings and the other guidelines issued in the Bani, creates original and specific musicology. Scientific approach to music can help in recognising more explicitly the music tradition according to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, he said.

Recitation of Gurbani under prescribed ragaas, peculiar singing styles and definitive musical signs is must for any kirtania as it was for the scholars of Gurbani to understand the exact perspective of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. These musical elements and devices have been used as a key for the compilation of this holy scripture which has structural and functional significance, he said.

Although the practical tradition of Gurmat music has been prevalent since more than 500 years, yet we have to judge it by the touchstone of Guru Granth Sahib only. The greatness of Gurmat music tradition compared with traditions of world spiritual music and Bhakti, Sufi music could yield much more meaningful results, he added.

 

Guru’s birth anniversary celebrated
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 18
The 503rd birth anniversary of the second Sikh Guru, Angad Dev, was celebrated with great enthusiasm at Khadoor Sahib, 24 km from here, today.

Sikh Sangat in lakhs from all over the world participated in the celebration. Ragis, dhadis, kavisharis jathas apprised everyone about the rich heritage and traditions of the Sikh.

The District Blindness Control Society under the presidentship of Dr Karanjit Singh, civil surgeon, organised a free eye check-up camp. Around 600 eye patients were examined in the camp.

 

Treasure trove of Gurbani found abandoned
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 18
In a surprise visit to the abandoned ramshackle, an ancient dera , a jatha of Akal Takht and the SGPC , headed by Giani Gurbachan Singh , head granthi, Darbar Sahib, found a treasure trove of the Gurbani, including a bir of Guru Granth Sahib, and rare books on the Sikh religion published in Lahore here today . The building in question is near the ancient Sham Singh Dera .

The old dera, constructed with Nanakshahi bricks, a few yards away from the Golden Temple was in a dilapidated condition and the jatha took a lot of risk to salvage the treasure trove, which was later taken to Akal Takht.

Manager, Golden Temple, Harbhajan Singh said a high-level probe would be ordered into the incident. Since the occupant of the building was reportedly away to Haridwar , the fact-finding team could not reach any conclusion . He said the occupant had shown scant respect to the holy Guru Granth Sahib and was a matter of great concern.

The books on Sikh religion were stacked in a wooden cupboard in a highly objectionable condition.

This is for the first time that the high priest of the Golden Temple himself led a jatha to salvage the holy bir of Guru Granth Sahib.

 

Tussle over toll tax leads to jams
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 18
Frequent traffic jams at toll plazas located on the Balachaur-Dasuya and the Hoshiarpur-Tanda BOT roads by private bus; three-wheeler and truck operators have become a headache for commuters.

Though the operators and those owning these toll plazas have reached an understanding and the latter had agreed to charge one time toll tax instead of charging for every trip till the final decision is taken in this regard. Those owning these toll plazas had allegedly broken the truce many a times. This had, on numerous occasions, forced private vehicle operators to launch an agitation. Once again the traffic at the Lachowal toll plaza on the Hoshiarpur-Tanda BOT road was blocked for more than an hour today.

Later, tehsildar Vijay Sharma and members of the district sangarsh committee intervened and told toll plaza owners that the state government would come out with a notification in this regard within 15 days. They persuaded toll plaza owners to charge one time toll tax from them till the notification was issued. Toll plaza owners accepted the proposal and the traffic was restored.

 

First phase of water supply scheme okayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Even as approval was given today to start the first phase of the ambitious Rs 1,280 crore World Bank-aided water supply and sanitation project, the Punjab government made out a strong case for reducing the user charges that are to be paid by the beneficiaries of the scheme.

Minister for public health Bikram Majithia and his team of officials met a World Bank team to plead that the contribution of the panchayat should also be calculated as the mandatory 10 per cent contribution of the village towards capital costs.

The minister urged the World Bank to have a re-look at the issue of how the programme could be smoothly implemented in smaller villages that had no more than a few hundred residents. Also, the MPs and MLAs besides the Punjab government should be allowed to contribute to capital costs in cases where the population was too poor to contribute.

Majithia and the bank team led by G.V. Abhyankar okayed the first phase that will cover 40 villages. The bank has already given money while the benefiting villages have deposited their 10 per cent contribution to the project.

Majithia said that Punjab government was committed to making the project a success and would ensure that every penny provided by the World Bank was properly utilised. He assured the bank that he would ensure accountability and transparency in the execution of this project. He would also have independent bodies to monitor the implementation of the project.

The minister also suggested an increase in the coverage of villages under the sewerage plan from 100 to 500 . Besides, villages ponds should be upgraded in 3,000 villages and not 1,000 villages. The bank team promised to look into the suggestions of the minister, a spokesperson said.

In the Rs 1,280 crore project the bank would contribute Rs 750.90 crore whereas the Punjab government would contribute Rs 240.45 crore. The contribution of the government of India would be Rs 207.20 crore whereas community contribution would be Rs 76.80 crore. The project, scheduled to be completed by March, 2012, will supply water to 74 lakh people. It will finance new water schemes for 2,124 villages and upgrade the existing water supply schemes in 920 villages.

 

Badal case adjourned to April 28
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
The disproportionate assets case against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his son and wife and some others was today adjourned to April 28 as the special judge hearing the matter did not attend court due to ill health.

The court reader to special judge G.S. Saran informed counsel that the judge was indisposed and would not hold court today. Tight security arrangements had been made as Badal and his MP-son Sukhbir had been ordered to be present personally today after both had failed to appear at the hearing on the previous hearing.

The lawyers went to the court of additional district and sessions judge for fixing a fresh date in the case, who fixed April 28 as the next date on the plea of counsel of the Badals.

Badal and his son had sought exemption from personal appearance in the case for today. Badal's wife Surinder Kaur had already been granted exemption from personal appearance. However, the other seven alleged accused were present in the court today.

The special judge had on April 9 strongly conveyed his displeasure over seeking repeated exemptions from personal appearance by accused and ordered the defence counsel to ensure the presence of all the accused in the court on April 10 when the father-son duo again failed to appear.

The case against the Badals and others was filed in 2002 shortly after the Congress government led by Amarinder Singh assumed power.

During the election campaigning in 2002, Amarinder Singh had alleged that the Badal family had amassed assets worth Rs 3,500 crore but the Vigilance Bureau had filed a chargesheet for Rs 78 crore.

 

Daler’s revision petition dismissed
Lalit Mohan/Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 18
In a significant development in the Daler Mehndi case, his revision petition against the summoning orders by the trial court was today dismissed by additional district and sessions judge, Patiala, Sukhwinder Kaur.

This has cleared the legal hurdles for framing of charges against the pop singer in trial court on May 9.

The trial court Patiala in the recent past had summoned Daler Mehndi for framing of charges. However, he had moved a revision petition before the additional district and session judge challenging his summoning.

Daler Mehndi’s counsel Rajinder Singh had maintained in the revision petition that the Patiala police, which was the investigating agency in the case, had filed discharge application in the court. In discharge application the police had claimed that there was no evidence against Daler and charges levelled against him in the FIR should be dropped.

So, as per law Daler Mehndi could not be summoned till some additional evidence came up in the case.

The counsels for complainants in the case, including Avtar Singh Brar and Gurpreet Singh, had also claimed that magistrate had the power to ignore the discharge application filed later by the police and summon the accused.

The complainants had challenged the discharge application filed by the police on the contention while similar evidence was being upheld against the co-accused, Daler Mehndi was being discharged. They also contended that vital evidence, including the information provided by Canadian embassy officials, had been ignored by the police while filing the discharge application.

Daler Mehndi, along with his brother, was booked by the Patiala police on charges of duping complainants on pretext of sending them abroad.

The counsel for Daler Mehndi said that he would take a decision on further course of action after receiving the detailed judgement. 

 

Punjab transfers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
The Punjab government today ordered the transfer of two IAS and one PCS officer. Vijay Kain, has been posted as principal secretary, health and family welfare replacing D.S. Jaspal. Kamal Kishore Yadav has been posted as additional deputy commissioner (Development), Hoshiarpur.

A.S. Bains, has been posted as director information and public relations in place of V.K. Sharma. Orders of posting of Jaspal and Sharma will be issued later.

Meanwhile, the transfer order of Harminder Singh, sub divisional magistrate, from Garhshankar to Balachaur has been cancelled.

Sources said, Jaspal had been shifted because the Health minister, Luxmi Kanta Chawla, wanted an officer of her choice in the department. Transfer order of SDM Garhshankar has been cancelled at the behest of the BJP, it is learnt.

Recently, the BJP, at a meeting of the coordination committee, had sought the posting of officers of its choice in their respective ministerial departments and constituencies.

 

Wildlife advisory board to be dissolved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
A decision has been taken to dissolve the Punjab wildlife advisory board.

This was stated here today by forest and wildlife minister Tikshan Sud.

Sud said in the new board, which would be constituted soon, genuine wildlife lovers and wildlife experts would be given due representation. The board would be headed by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

 

Son cuts mother’s hair for marrying again
Chander Parkash
Tribune News service

Malout, April 18
Parkash Kaur, a resident of Samewali village of this subdivision, was yesterday dragged, beaten up and shorn off her hair by her son and kin of her former husband, in the Shamkhera village of this area.

A police party of Sadar Police Station, Malout, which reached the spot after getting information, rescued the victim and took two of the total six accused into custody.

Those arrested included Iqbal Singh, son of the victim and Sukhdev Singh, nephew of Iqbal Singh.

Police sources said that Parkash Kaur was married to Jaswant Singh, a resident of Shamkhera village, many years ago. The couple had a son within few years of their marriage. About a decade ago, due to differences between husband and wife both got ‘panchayati’ divorce.

After leaving her husband and son behind, Parkash Kaur got married again to another farmer of Shamkhera village. However, the couple started living in Samewali village. Parkash Kaur’s first husband Jaswant Singh died a few years ago.

Parkash Kaur’s son Iqbal Singh from her first marriage, who was very young when his mother left him, had been harbouring animosity against her for getting married a second time.

Yesterday when Parkash Kaur came to Shamkhera village in connection with some work, Iqbal Singh, along with his other kin, gave her a good thrashing apart from dragging her. Her hair was also shorn off with a pair of scissors.

A case under Sections 452,295-A, 342, 323, 148 and 149 of IPC was registered against the accused.

 

Man commits suicide

Amritsar, April 18
Surinder Kumar, a resident of Sundar Nagar, allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself with a ceiling fan due to financial constraints today. A suicide note in his pocket stated that his wife, his in-laws and neighbours were responsible for his death as they were not returning his money, which had led to severe financial constraints. The police initiated an inquiry after registering a case.

The police authorities said the suicide note has been sent to handwriting experts to check whether it was written by the deceased. — OC

 

New courses at Punjabi University
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 18
The Punjabi university, Patiala, has decided to start M.Phil at its regional campuses from the next academic session. In a press release issued today, the university authorities have stated that decision has been taken in wake of UGC move to consider M.Phil eligible for appointments in colleges affiliated to various universities.

The university authorities have, however, also made it clear to the departments opting for starting the M.Phil courses that they would have to cope with the existing faculty and infrastructure.

Last year also the university had sought comments from various departments for starting the M.Phil course with existing faculty and infrastructure. Most of the department had expressed their inability to start the course with existing faculty and infrastructure.

However, now many departments have decided to start the course on self financing basis.

The department would have to raise resources from the students opting M.Phil to hire extra facility or infrastructure required for the purpose.

Many of the departments have already started accepting the synopsis for M.Phil.

The other courses being introduced by the university from the next academic session include Master’s course in Physiotherapy, five-year law course, BA honours course in Gurmat Sangeet and M.Pharma in industrial pharmacy.

Punjabi Parveshika classes would also be started by the department of Punjabi.

In addition to that B.Tech in electronics and computer engineering and MCA would also be started in engineering college, Rampura Phul.

 


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