P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Amarinder fights back
Govt informers in my security
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 9
Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today alleged that the Badal government had posted its informers on his security duty.

Talking to The Tribune, he alleged that his trusted men had been withdrawn from the security duty and informers of the present government had been posted in their place.

These security personnel were more interested in passing on information regarding his movements to the government rather than providing him the security cover.

“Such a security cover provided by the present government is of no use. The security personnel should always comprise of the persons whom the person being covered trusts. During my stint as Chief Minister, I did not withdraw an SP from the security of Badal as he trusted him the most.

“However, in just two months Parkash Singh Badal has changed my entire security set up. The security personal I trust have been withdrawn,” he alleged. When asked if he perceived a threat to his life, he said he had no such fear. However, the Z-plus to security he was entitled to should continue as per the rules.

Capt Amarinder Singh has also written a letter to Badal a copy of which was provided to newsmen here. In the letter, the former Chief Minister has stated that while in the Opposition, Badal was given the Z-plus security.

“However, recently you (Parkash Singh Badal) have withdrawn the CRPF commandos from my security duty and appointed Punjab Armed Police personnel. You have posted officers whom I do not know and want.

“You should know that security is a serious matter and officers and men should be appointed in which the person covered has his confidence. It is because of this that you (Badal) had NSG and Haryana commandos and officers of your choice on security duty when I was the Chief Minister”, the letter says.

He has demanded Khubi Ram as SP in charge of his security, G.S. Bedi and Ashis Kapoor two DSPs and two inspectors of the choice of Khubi Ram.


Charges against Badals
Cong to move SC for transfer of cases
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul, May 9
Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who had remained elusive to congressmen for weeks together after the installation of the SAD-BJP government in Punjab, at a rally held here today said atrocities being committed on innocent Congress workers by the government would be opposed tooth and nail.

Amarinder Singh 'No permission is required from the PPCC for organising such rallies.'

Factionalism to the fore

The rally brought to the fore factionalism and differences among the Congress rank and file. Neither leader of Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal nor state Congress chief Shamsher Singh Dullo turned up at the venue. Almost all leaders, owing allegiance to these two leaders, stayed away from the rally.

Though Amarinder’s speech at the well-attended rally managed to boost the morale of the party men, it brought to the fore factionalism and differences among the party rank and file. Neither leader of opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal nor state Congress chief Shamsher Singh Dullo turned up at the venue. Almost all leaders, owing allegiance to these two leaders, stayed away from the rally. Moreover, Amarinder said no permission was required from the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC) for organising such rallies.

Amarinder, who declared that those politicians and policemen, who had been committing atrocities on Congress workers at the behest of Badal, would have to pay a price for their actions, proved he still wielded considerable influence in the party. Around 10 MLAs, president of the Punjab Youth Congress and a section of party leadership attended the rally.

The rally was organised by local MLA Gurpreet Singh Kangar to highlight the plight of the victimised Congress workers.

Kangar introduced to mediapersons three persons and a jawan of Punjab Home Guards, along with his wife, who had allegedly been victimised by the police on behalf of a senior Akali Dal leader of Bathinda.

While declaring that the Congress would retaliate to every atrocity committed on Congress workers by the Akalis, Amarinder said all arrangements had been made to move the Supreme Court seeking transfer of cases of corruption against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his wife Surinder Kaur and son Sukhbir Badal to another state.

The former Chief Minister said Badal had been befooling the poor as far as the “atta-dal” scheme is concerned. The government had failed to conduct a survey to identify the beneficiaries of the scheme. Those figures were already available with the state and centre governments, he alleged.

The government had failed to achieve the targeted procurement of wheat. It had procured only 72 MT of wheat till May 9 compared to 111MT during the Congress rule in the corresponding period.

Prominent among those who attended the rally were Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, Nirmal Singh Shutrana, Randeep Singh Nabha, Ajaib Singh Bhatti, Makhan Singh, Naresh Kataria, Mangat Rai Bansal , Joginder Pal Jain (all MLAs).


A few mega projects near polluting units: Panel
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
A high-level committee, set up by the Punjab government to carry out physical verification to determine whether mega projects are located near polluting industries and violate the policy guidelines on checking pollution, has completed its survey.

Sources today said the committee found only a few mega projects located near polluting industries. Most of the other projects, though these violate policy guidelines regarding the keeping of a buffer zone of 100 metres from industry, are located near green industries, which are not counted among the polluting units.

The sources said the report would be submitted categorising the projects located near highly polluting, medium and non-polluting ones. The projects, which are located close to green industry, are expected to be given the go-ahead by the state government. Following the cancellation of change of land use approvals, work on many projects had come to a standstill.

The committee headed by the chief administrator of PUDA will submit its report to the state government in a few days. Chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh had set up the committee after the cancellation of no-objection certificates given to the owners of these projects by the state government and later the cancellation of the change of land use (CLU) approvals by the Punjab housing and urban development department. While cancelling the CLUs, which was a major administrative decision, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was not taken into confidence by the officers concerned.

On the basis of the report of the committee, new guidelines for the housing projects will be framed.

It was reported that the pollution control board and the Punjab housing and urban development department had cancelled the no- objection certificates (NOCs) and land use change approvals, respectively, even of those housing projects which had nothing to do with any sort of industrial pollution. Because of the cancellation of the LUC approvals, investment worth several hundred crores of rupees in housing projects in the state was threatened.

Anther important decision taken at the meeting was to make a provision in the housing project with regard to the establishing of the buffer green zone between the industrial area and the housing colony. Under the existing guidelines, there is a provision to create a strip of green belt ,but it is not clear who will do it.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Badal today asked the chief secretary to prepare a consolidated and suitable policy for housing and industrial mega projects to be approved in future.


News Analysis
Debate starts on power subsidies to farm sector
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
Orissa’s finance minister has presented a surplus Budget for the current fiscal. The Bihar finance minister has given permission to recruit 3.5 lakh youths this year to fill the vacant and newly-created posts in that state. Haryana finance minister has not rejected any worthwhile proposal for the recruitment of employees.

What about Punjab? Will the state be able to achieve such feats. No, not possible in the existing financial scenario of giving freebies by the Badal government to people of the state.

As the Badal government yesterday began the exercise to discuss the salient features of the Budget, debate has begun whether to continue the facility of free power to the farm sector or not. The Budget is to be passed in June.

The Badal government is feeling choked on the fiscal front at the moment. “By making hundreds of promises, mostly in the form of freebies, the Badal government has clearly bitten more than it can chew and is now facing the choking”, said a senior officer.

The Badal government will require net Rs 2,400 crore to provide free power to the farm sector, Dalits and backward classes as a part of its election promise.

The collection from revenue is in the range of Rs 9,000 crore. Besides Rs 8,000 crore, Rs 4,000 crore is required to fund the annual development plan. The Planning Commission has called the Chief Minister to discuss the plan on May 23.

A senior functionary of the government said Punjab was perhaps only state which was destroying itself by giving free power to farmers to grow paddy. In fact, the direct subsidy should be given to farmers, say Rs 4,000 to 5,000 per acre to farmers for not growing paddy and to sow any alternative crop. By giving direct subsidy of Rs 1,000 crore to farmers, about 25 lakh acres could be withdrawn from under the paddy crop.

By doing so, Punjab will be save Rs 500 crore.

How is Punjab destroying itself? First, for growing paddy, 10 lakh tube wells have to be operated to irrigate the crop. Through this operation a lot of water is pumped out from the sub-soil. Already, 108 blocks in the state have been declared as over-exploited as far as pumping out of water from these areas is concerned.

Second, to provide power to the farm sector during paddy season, the Punjab State Electricity Board has to buy power at a very high cost varying between Rs 4 and Rs 6 per unit. Moreover, the PSEB has to transfer power from paying sector-industry and manufacturing sector to non-paying sector, that is, the farm sector.

“ The best alternative is to give direct subsidy to farmers for not transplanting paddy and state will be gaining a lot by following such a policy”, said the functionary.


Fresh evidence of Punjab's sacrifices in First War of Independence
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
It has often been asserted that Punjab didn’t participate in the First War of Independence and Punjabis worked against the cause. But Chandigarh-based eminent scholar of Punjabi studies Harnam Singh Shaan has found irrefutable evidence showing that Punjab not only participated in the War, but also its people smilingly laid down their lives. Only they were never saluted for their role.

A striking proof that the War, as elsewhere, started in Punjab on May 10, 1857, comes from the accounts of Frederic Cooper, the then Amritsar deputy commissioner, whose book titled “The Crisis in the Punjab from 10th May to the Fall of Delhi, 1857” is revealing. It was published in London in 1858 and contains details of the execution of Punjabi soldiers ordered by Cooper in 1857.

On the night of July 30, 1857, a band of 500 Punjabi patriots, were camping on the banks of the Ravi, six miles from Ajnala. The British spotted and surrounded them. Cooper ordered the killing of 150 soldiers. While receding, several patriots were overpowered by the unsparing currents of the Ravi. The remaining, about 282, were sent to Ajnala jail. Several were brought out in groups of 10 and shot down on the streets. Of those in jail, 45 died of suffocation and thirst. Their bodies, instead of being cremated, were bundled up and thrown into a nearby well which was covered with earth, by Cooper’s orders. The well still exists near Ajnala and is called “Kaliyan da Khuh”. The martyrs never got any memorial but their death sparked protests in “Bangar Desh” (now Haryana).

References to Punjab’s role in the uprising also emerge from the accounts of poet-historians of that age. In “Jagnama Dilli”, Khazan Singh refers to 1914 (Bikrami calendar) which corresponds to 1857 (Christian year). He writes, “Saal unin sau chaudhavan vartada si, sare desh de vich fatur paie; Kavi Singh aakhe ehnan kalian ne, topan bir ke morche aan laei.”

Seeds of revolt were actually sown when the British captured Punjab after Ranjit Singh’s death. National poet of Punjab Sayed Shah Mohammad also referred to the battle between British India and Punjab. In “Jangnama Singhan te Phirangian”, 1846, he wrote: “Jang Hind Punjab da hon laga, doven badshahi phaujan bharian ne, Shah Mohammad ik sarkar bahjon, phaujan jit ke ant nun harian ne” (the Sikhs lost in the absence of Ranjit Singh)

Ten years after Mohammad’s echoes, the War opened. In his records, Khazan Singh wrote of how the British wanted to Christianise their forces. “Jang Nama Dilli”, the manuscript Shaan researched, talks about Lord Canning’s arrival in Ambala from Calcutta and of how Canning asked the local subedars to surrender. The Punjabis were at first hesitant to support “Poorbia” (from East India) soldiers as they thought the Poorbias helped the British conquer Punjab. Later, however, the Punjabis rose up to the challenge. Of Punjabi soldiers, Khazan Singh writes, “Asian maran ge teg di tab agai, jang karan ge morche lae ke ji, Asin bhaj ke kite na javna hai, tainun chhaddan ge Sindh tapae ke ji”.

The rebellion further spread to Ferozepur where many soldiers were killed. From there, Punjabi soldiers marched on towards Jhelum, Atak, Ambala and Ferozpur cantonments. When they reached Gurdaspur, the British officer in charge was so anxious, he asked Lahore to send additional forces.

“Ghadar di Var”, the 1858 manuscript, records the incident: “Jang kamai kaliyan, Jhelum Atak sipah, Sardar bajar te chhavni, lut leya Sialkot nu jah, thar thar kambda Sialkot, Gurdaspur val aiye, Likh pawrana Smith sahib bhejia, Pharangi takhat Lahoron phat pahunchaiye…”


Sarus population on rise
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
The population of the sarus crane, the tallest flying bird in the world, is on the rise in Punjab.

After its regular sighting in the Nangal area, it can now be spotted in Gurdaspur district also.

The sarus crane attains a height of up to 6 feet, with a wingspan of 8 feet. It is the tallest of all 15 species of cranes in the world. Its habitat is shallow wetlands, marshes, ponds and fields.

The Red Data Book - a compendium of species facing extinction - has put the bird in the “vulnerable” category.

Chief conservator of forests and in charge of Shivalik hills, Wildlife Circle, Jitendra Sharma says the wildlife wing has sighted the sarus in the Sahaila Pattan area of Gurdaspur district a number of times.

“For the past one year, we have been working to finalise the proposal for setting up the Keshopur-Miani community reserve in Gurdaspur district. We held a number of meetings with villagers. During field visits we sighted the cranes.

We even invited a team of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) to visit the site. In February, Vibhu Prakash of the BNHS, along with staff of the wildlife wing, conducted a census to assess the ecological value of this area. During the census, the sarus were sighted. In one area they were sighted along with hundreds of common cranes, which are winter migrants from Siberia. The other globally endangered bird like the greater spotted eagle was also sighted,” says Sharma.

“It is high time to save our ecological heritage. We are even planning to conduct a proper sarus census with the help of the BNHS,” says B.C. Bala, principal chief conservator of forests.

“It is heartening to rediscover the sarus in other areas of Punjab also. It was locally extinct for sometime,” says Kuldip Singh, chief wildlife warden.

Prabhat Bhatti, a Nangal-based bird watcher, has spotted a flock of the sarus a number of times in his area. These days he is making a film on the sarus.

Says K.S. Gopi Sundar, research associate (India), International Crane Foundation, USA: “The sarus is holding out in Uttar Pradesh with quite a good distribution and high density in many districts. In Gujarat and Rajasthan, their presence is restricted to certain areas and seems to be declining. In Punjab, the sarus has been extinct as a breeding bird for many years now and I have no new information except that it occurs in some areas as a vagrant.”

“Restoring the wetlands and maintaining the existing ones are the key steps to ensure that the sarus cranes persist. Our country cannot afford more losses of natural areas and farmlands,” he adds.


Woman being forced into abortion rescued
Chander Parkash
Tribune News service

Bathinda, May 9
Binder Kaur, a pregnant woman of Rai ke Khurd village, who was allegedly forced into having an abortion by her husband Jaspal Singh, was rescued by the officials of the local PNDT cell and a doctor working at the Civil Hospital here today.

After rescuing Binder Kaur, Sadhu Ram Kushla, project officer, PNDT cell, got her admitted to the Civil Hospital. The police was also sent a written request to record the statement of the victim.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that Binder raised a hue and cry when her husband started beating her up at the local bus stand when she refused to go to Gidderbaha town for an abortion. Some of the bus passengers along with those standing at the bus stand informed the officials of PNDT cell about the incident. Jaspal managed to flee.

Maninderjit Singh, civil surgeon, said Binder was six-month pregnant. He added that her parents, residing at Naruana village had been called to take care of her.

The civil surgeon further said Binder had disclosed that she had undergone abortion twice earlier also. He added that details of disclosure made by her were being worked out to find out the name of ultra-sound centre and clinic where she underwent abortion.


Turban Disgrace
Book JAC members, says Boparai
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 9
Punjabi University vice-chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai has sought the registration of case against the members of the joint action committee for allegedly bringing disgrace to turban. In a press release issued here today, the university authorities have maintained they have written to the police for the registration of case under Section 295-A of the IPC (hurting the religious sentiments).

The VC said he had been receiving calls from Sikhs all around, condemning the blasphemous act of tying turban to a donkey. Already today violent protest was carried out in Ludhiana on the matter. Hence, we had written to the police to register a case in the matter before things go out of hand, he added.

Meanwhile, members of the joint action committee alleged that canard was being spread by the VC on the campus. The ass march was nothing but an effort on the part of the committee to attract the attention of public and government towards the “misdeeds” of the VC.

They maintained that they believed in Sikhism and the authority of the SGPC. They requested the jathedar of the Akal Takht and president of the SGPC to visit the university campus and verify the facts on their own. The jathedar could also appoint a committee to look into the matter.

They accused of hitting the VC below the belt. In September 2003 also with a view to brow beat the students agitating against him a false report of religious sacrilege on the premises of Punjabi University gurdwara was registered. The complaint was later found to be wrong after an inquiry and the case was withdrawn. The VC also went public against the SGPC chief, they alleged.

The members of the committee also condemned the suspension orders of Dr Manjit Singh, prof and head of the department of social work.


Make dope, HIV tests mandatory, says MP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
In a far-sighted demand, Hoshiarpur MP Avinash Rai Khanna has demanded that the union government should bring in a legislation to make dope test mandatory for students seeking admission in professional colleges and an HIV test mandatory for marrying couples.

Khanna said he had raised these demands in the Lok Sabha yesterday.

Terming the drug abuse menace as the ultimate destroyer of the modern-day generation, he asserted that a dope test would dissuade several youngsters.

Khanna, who was the former president of the Punjab unit of the BJP, said the registration of the marriages should be made subject to the furnishing of the HIV reports of the individuals.


Lahore kidney betrayed him
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 9
Local resident Manmohan Chadha (55), who got his kidney transplant done at Rasheed Hospital, Lahore, died here today only after two months of the surgery. Chadha, a bank employee, had opted for pre-mature retirement on health grounds.

Doctors say the patients, who get kidney transplant done in Lahore, develop problems during post-operative care, and hence don’t live long. The ‘kidney trade’ is flourishing in Pakistan.

The website of the hospital provides online consultancy to patients the world over.

Lahore, which has been a favoured destination of kidney patients from India, is likely to be out of reach for them since organ transplant has become a costly affair now.

Caught between poverty and skyrocketing prices, poor people in Pakistan are increasingly resorting to sell off their kidneys.

On the other hand, the government of Pakistan is contemplating promulgating an ordinance to curb human organ and tissue transplants.


MiG 29 crash: Probe on
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 9
An Air Force team from Delhi today visited the Adampur airbase to investigate into the MiG 29 aircraft crash at Daroli Khurd village near here last evening.

Adampur PRO Wg Cdr. Balwinder Singh told The Tribune that the findings of the probe would be available tomorrow. He said MiG 29 aircraft took off for their routine sorties even today and there was reason to ground them as of now.


One dies due to rabies
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, May 9
Two persons were injured today when stray dogs attacked them.

Sita Singh and Jeet Singh were going to their residence when the dogs attacked them near Thandi Sadak.

Meanwhile, a resident of Rodiwal village, near Malerkotla, who was bitten by a dog two months ago, died yesterday due to rabies.

The stray dog menace has plagued the town. The municipal council has not taken any steps to control their population.


Age no bar for them
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 9
Elderly persons aged 50-66 appeared for the Class III annual examination organised by the District Literacy Society at the Hanumangarh junction, about 60 km from here, yesterday.

Geeta Kaur, a graduate, said today that her mother-in-law, Kartar Kaur (53), one of the women who took the examination, was an illiterate. She asked her to be her teacher. Soon she developed an interest in education and got herself enrolled with the nodal centre at Gayatri Vidya Mandir School.

Sanjay Purohit, another senior citizen appearing for the examination, could not continue his studies after Class II. He took lessons from Seeta Devi for the Class III examination.

Chhano Devi (66), a eunuch, has been elected councillor from Ward No. 11. Being an illiterate, she was finding it difficult to carry out the MC work. Parmeshwari Devi of the same locality motivated her to do studies. Chhano, too, appeared for the “A” certificate examination.


One killed in accidental firing
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 9
A canter driver, employed by a private company dealing in nature cure products, was killed today in an accidental firing, sources said.

Security guard Sardul Singh fell down along with .12-bore licensed gun, perhaps due to scorching heat on the second floor of the office building at 3.30 pm. A bullet that emanated accidentally hit the driver, Sushil Kumar Handa, and smashed glass panes of the office, said city police SHO Jagrup Singh, who rushed to the company office located in Sunder Nagari locality.

Sushil was immediately rushed to the Civil Hospital, but was declared brought dead. Preliminary investigation indicated that the chairman and the managing director were not present in the office. They were having a meeting with the marketing staff in a hotel on the college road. They too rushed to the hospital on getting information but in vain.

The body of the victim has been kept in the hospital mortuary for postmortem.


Water supply
EO office gheraoed
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 9
A number of women today gheraoed the executive officer (EO) of the local municipal council, executive engineer and SDO of the Punjab State Water Supply and Sewerage Board for more than two hours in the office of the EO here in protest against the non-supply of drinking water for the past some days to their houses in the Padhian Wala Mohalla (Dhuri gate) here.

The women, led by a senior citizen, Pawan Kumar Mangla, argued with the three over the issue. They demanded supply of drinking water or threatened an agitation. They were pacified by the officers when they gave in writing to the women that the supply of drinking water to their houses would be started by 5 p.m. tomorrow.

Local BJP municipal councillor Jatinder Kalra held the Water Supply and Sewerage Board authorities responsible for the problem in various parts of the town.


Badal’s largesse for doctor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
A doctor, having a humble background, was today sanctioned a grant of Rs 3.5 lakh from the Punjab Chief Minister’s relief fund to participate in a competition abroad.

The beneficiary, Dr Gagandeep Singh, is at present an intern at the government medical college and hospital, Patiala. He is part of the 12-member Asian delegation that will participate in an “International settlement designing” competition to be organised by NASA at Houston in July.

Gagandeep is the adviser to the delegation. He met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at a sangat darshan programme yesterday and requested him for the grant.

A spokesperson for the Punjab government said the doctor is the son of a clerk.

His case was recommended by the Principal of his college.


‘Bijli darbars’ to redress complaints
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 9
Chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Board Y.S. Ratra has said in order to mitigate the difficulties of electricity consumers in the state, the PSEB has decided to hold “bijli darbars”.

The camps would be organised in different circles on every Saturday, he said, adding that it would be organised under the supervision of superintending engineer, chief engineer, and member, distribution.

The chairman also assured that these camps would prove useful for solving problems of the consumers. Apart from this, the PSEB would also consider the suggestions of the consumers, he added.

Officers of the board shall also motivate the consumers to use electricity judiciously to conserve power and also help the board to cooperate against the drive to check electricity theft, he added.


Vacant posts hamper work in Sirhind
Surinder Bhardwaj
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 9
Three important posts of PCS officers at district headquarters and one of executive officer, Municipal Council Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib, are lying vacant, causing inconvenience to the people besides hampering work.

There is no additional deputy commissioner, district transport officer, assistant commissioner in the district.

Though the government had been making transfers regularly but the district has failed to get officers.

Due to the non-availability of DTO, the entire transport-related work has come to standstill though there is ADTO, but he mostly remains on checking which affects the office work.

Similarly, residents of Sirhind town are worst affected as there is no executive officer available in the council for the last two months.

The officer is on leave since the new government took charge and the additional charge was with EO of Khanna MC, but he did not come to office.

Though a new EO has been posted, he has not taken the charge yet and the residents are facing difficulties in getting their routine work done.


Garden Theatre
‘Naqqals’ enthral; Manisha mesmerises
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 9
The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS) in their 68th monthly garden theatre programme, “Punjabi Hass Raag Rang”, presented “Naqlan”, here today.

In the well-attended programme, presented by Pran Sabharwal and Sunita Sabharwal, NTAS theatre couple, a professional naqlan group enthralled the audience with a play titled “Kake Da Beauty Parlour”.

The other programme included a powerful Punjabi play “Girgat”, based on Russian writer Anton Chekhov, a world fame story directed by Kavita Sharma and Rajesh Sharma of Natak Wala Group. A dance performance was given by Manisha, a state awarded artiste of ITI, Patiala.

Madan Lal Jalalpur, Ghanaur MLA, was the chief guest on this occasion. He stressed the need for healthy humour and asked the artists to bring modern theatre to the rural people to improve their taste of appreciation, sense of humour and create awareness among them.

He urged the people to follow the dedication, zeal and zest of the NTAS duo Pran Sabharwal and Sunita Sabharwal to reach their cherished goals and serve the society. He announced a cash award of Rs 5,100 in appreciation of the NTAS regular theatre activity.

Socialite S.K. Girdhar also announced a cash award of Rs 2,100 and three wristwatches one each for Sunita Sabharwal, Kavita Sharma and Manisha.

Prominent personalities, including Mahant Atma Ram and officers of the State Bank of Patiala were present on the occasion.

A felicitation-cum-laughter session and seminar was organised by Tarlochan Singh Jeet and K.C. Khanna in which NTAS personalities honoured the chief guest Jalalpur, Girdhar, Narinder Singh Heer, a veteran singer, jathedar Harnath Singh and presented cash awards and gifts to 25 artistes.

Girdhar said the performances by “Naqqal” have not only been entertaining the masses for years but also contributing towards the reformation of the society.


Daler appears before trial court
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 9
Daler Mehndi presented himself before the trail court here today as his revision application against the summoning orders was rejected by the Additional District and Sessions Judge.

The trail court judge Rajvinder Singh fixed June 6 as the next date of hearing for arguments on framing of charges against Daler Mehndi in a case registered against him by the Patiala police. Daler Mehndi has been accused of duping a few residents of the Patiala on the pretext of sending them abroad with his dance troupe.

The case has resumed in the trail court despite the Punjab police having filed a discharge application absolving Daler Mehndi of the charges levelled against him by the complainants.

The trail court judge on an application from the complainants rejected the discharge application filed by the police later. The complainants had alleged that the police officials who filed the discharge application against Daler had ignored vital evidence presented before them.


Bailable warrants against Chahal
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
After a long and patient wait and giving him a “long enough rope”, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued bailable warrants against B.I.S. Chahal, media adviser to former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, in a contempt of court case.

A Full Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain, Justice Rajive Bhalla and Justice Surya Kant, issued the warrants after Chahal failed to appear in the court despite repeated notices. The court reiterated its strong displeasure over Chahal’s attitude and observed that it appeared that he was deliberately trying to avoid appearing before the court . Importantly, the Indian High Commission in London was directed to execute the warrants against Chahal, subject to his furnishing a surety of Rs 20,000.

Chahal had sought repeated exemptions from personal appearance, citing a heart ailment.


Directive on bifurcation of police dists
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the Punjab government to place before it the notification ordering the bifurcation of Majitha and Jagraon police districts and their re-designation as Amritsar (rural) and Ludhiana (rural), respectively.

The direction was issued during the course of proceedings on public interest litigation relating to police reforms. The PIL had been filed by a Ludhiana-based NGO, Resurgent India, in 2003.

The petitioners submitted today that on August 9,2004, an order had been passed by the court that only cadre officers would hold cadre posts. The order was upheld by the apex court also.

Despite that order, the Punjab government issued a notification leading to the bifurcation of the above-mentioned police districts aimed at accommodating PPS officers against IPS-cadre posts, the petitioners averred.

This was in gross violation of the court order, they further submitted.

At this, the court directed the Punjab government to place the said notification before it on July 24.


Bar Council produces documents
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 9
The Bar Council of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today produced documents relating to the licence issued to transport minister Master Mohan Lal Sharma, before the court of Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate R.K. Garg, Pathankot, today.

A representative of the council told the court that Sharma was given a licence after he produced certificates and a declaration to have passed law from N.M. Law College, Hanumangarh, Ajmer, Rajasthan, by attending regular classes from 1989 to 1991.

The council also made it clear that Sharma had already surrendered his licence and it has initiated a separate inquiry against him in this regard.

Arya Senior Secondary School (Boys), Pathankot, said Sharma, a teacher with the school, was paid salary from 1989 to 1991. The school management, however, told the court that attendance register in which Sharma used to mark his presence was not traceable.

The court would take up the case on May 24. Gurdev Singh, a resident of Sunder Nagar in Pathankot, in a complaint had challenged his degrees claiming it to be 'fake'.


Weedicide supplier’s licence cancelled

Mansa, May 9
The chief agriculture officer here has cancelled the licence of Kansal Sales Agency for its alleged involvement in supplying a particular kind of weedicide to a large number of farmers living in the area, which has adversely affected the soil fertility and rendered it unfit for sowing any crops for one year at least. Not only this, authorities of the state agriculture department have also initiated the process of registering criminal cases against pesticide dealers of this and Patiala districts in his regard.

Agriculture development officer Jagtar Singh said the licence of Kansal Sales Agency was cancelled after an inquiry. He added that this agency had not issued bills to a few affected farmers despite the fact that they were supplied a particular kind of weedicide.

A detailed inquiry has already been initiated. A team comprising scientists from Punjab Agricultural University, Krishi Vigyan Kender, Kauni (Muktsar) and officials of the local agriculture department have been put on job. — TNS


District narcotic cell set up
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 9
To monitor the activities of the smugglers and analyse their network in Sangrur, a district-level narcotic cell has been set up by the police.

SSP Arun Pal Singh said Bahadur Singh Wala, in-charge, CIA staff, would head the cell. An SI, two ASIs, and 18 head constables had been posted in the cell.

He said the cell would also rehabilitate the drug addicts. The police would also initiate steps to freeze the “ill-gotten” property of the smugglers.

Arun Pal Singh said since April 4, the police had arrested 103 persons, including 14 women, under the NDPS Act and the Excise Act. The police also seized a huge quantity of opium, poppy husk, smack, illicit liquor, etc. The police had also initiated legal proceedings for freezing the property of six smugglers.

The SSP said the police was preparing a traffic plan for every town in the district to reduce congestion on roads.


Immigration racket busted, 2 travel agents held
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
The police raid on travel agents’ premises in the city last evening for the verification of documents and activities paid off today with the busting of an alleged immigration racket run by the Nanny Course institute in BRS Nagar and another by a marriage bureau near grain market.

SSP R K Jaiswal said the racket was busted by calling up the clients mentioned in the records of the accused institutes. On the basis of fraud alleged by some victims, the police booked Harpreet Singh and Malkiat Singh who ran the Institute of Caregivers and Allied Services from G-26, BRS Nagar. Harpreet has been arrested.

The police found the accused were taking Rs 6 lakh to Rs 12 lakh from girls for sending them abroad. Harmel Singh of Sangrur told the police that the accused Dhad had taken Rs 7 lakh from him for sending his daughters abroad but neither fulfilled the promise nor returned the money.

The police recovered several passports from the office of the accused. The accused had no right to keep the passports of the girls. A case has been registered at Sarabha Nagar police station.

The police also booked Nirmal Singh and Jatinder Singh, who ran the Meet Enterprises, a marriage bureau, near grain market. They had even made announcements in villages calling people interested in going abroad. Nirmal Singh has been arrested.

The police had raided the offices of nearly 30 travel agents all over the city late last night.


Dean’s resignation: NRI donors not happy
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 9
NRIs contributing to the Golden Heart scholarships of Punjabi University have expressed concern over the developments on the campus. One of the donors, Baba Daljit Singh Chicagowaley, founder and chief of Guru Nanak Sikh Mission of America, said foreign donors were perplexed due to the developments in the university. It was likely to affect the inflow of donations in the near future, he added.

He praised Dr Baltej Singh Mann, who has now resigned from the post of dean resource mobilisation, for his efforts to raise donations for poor students of the university. He termed as unfortunate the decision of the vice-chancellor to deny no-objection certificate to Mann and his wife for visiting the US and Canada to meet their son.

Baba Daljit Singh has been sponsoring the fee of about 12 rural students under the Golden Heart scholarships. Mann, who was accompanying the Baba, said he had been receiving e-mails from several contributors since the controversy began. Meanwhile, Mann said that he had moved the Punjab Human Rights Commission against the VC, who had denied him the opportunity to visit his son in the US.


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